Monday, March 21, 2011

Gbagbo's youth minister incites violence in Ivory Coast

It is no secret that power struggle between beleaguered Laurent Gbagbo and the internationally recognized President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, as well as incitement of violence by Gbagbo's youth minister - Charles Ble Goude (pictured) - has pushed Ivory Coast to the brink of another civil war.

Since Laurent Gbagbo was declared loser of the November 2010 presidential election, his refusal to relinguish his firm grip on power has lead to bloodshed and loss of innocent lives. Young Gbagbo supporters, under the influence of his youth minister, have reportedly committed horrific crimes against supporters of  Alassane Ouattara and foreigners. These crimes, according to the UN and Human Rights Watch, could amount to crimes against humanity.

Charles Ble Goude has been instrumental in shoring up support for Gbagbo and inciting violence against opposition supporters. According to Human Rights Watch, on 25 February 2011, Charles Ble Goude urged "real" Ivorians to "denounce" foreigners. His statement was followed by coordinated violence against foreigners

Earlier today, the BBC reported that thousands of youths have responded to Goude's call to "join the army" and "liberate" the country. The youth minister reportedly encouraged youths to fight against supporters of the opposition. Responding to the youth minister's call, thousands of young Ivorians showed up at an army base to enlist.

Incitement of violence in Ivory Coast should be unequivocally condemned at all levels. It undermines calls for an end to violence and human rights abuses in the west African country. The country is yet to recover from damaging consequences of the 2002 -2003 civil war, hence Ivorian youths should exercise restraint and reject manipulation and calls that could spark another civil war.

Charles Ble Goude should use his influential position as youth minister to unite; rather than incite violence and divide the youths of Ivory Coast along political lines.

These are tough times for human rights around the world and free people all across the globe are closely watching events in Ivory Coast. Perpetrators of violence, including those who use the privilege of leadership to incite violence, will be brought to book.

Charles Ble Goude, Gbagbo's militant youth leader and minister, is currently under UN sanctions for inciting violence. More sanctions should be considered.

Since November 2010, more than 425 people have died and 500,000 people have fled their homes.

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