|Ivory Coast Police crackdown on demonstrators. Photo: PicsfromAfrica.|
Since the African Union, United Nations, European Union and ECOWAS recognised Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the disputed elections in December 2010 and asked Laurent Gbagbo to step down, security forces loyal to Gbagbo have repeatedly clashed with supporters of Ouattara and committed horrific crimes - leaving many civilians dead or wounded and on the run.
Horrific crimes by Gbagbo loyalists against civilians and members of the opposition are well-documented and include the following:
- Forced disappearances,
- Extrajudicial killings
- Gang rapes
- Intimidation and brutal crackdown on demonstrators.
UN peacekeepers have also been attacked by pro-Laurent Gbagbo security forces - who reportedly opened fire on a UN vehicle in December 2010.
Even more disturbing are reports of the presence of Liberian mercinaries in Ivory Coast, recruited to reinforce Gbagbo's security forces. During the 24 February clash with forces loyal to Ouattara, Liberian mercinaries fought alongside Gbagbo's troops.
Gang rapes, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other horrific crimes committed by Laurent Gbagbo forces against a civilian population amount to "crimes against humanity" and "war crimes." When it's all said and done, those commanding such operations will be held to account. We've seen justice take its course in DR Congo - where a Lieutenant Colonel was recently jailed for commanding a mass rape operation.
In December 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned perpetrators of crimes in Ivory Coast that they would be prosecuted.