Ouattara says ‘someone must be responsible’ for poll deaths

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara has refused to comment on the acquittal on crimes against humanity of his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court (ICC) while insisting investigations would continue.

“No reaction from me, it’s an ongoing trial…,” Ouattara said in an interview with Radio France International in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where he was attending an African Union summit.

But he added: “Someone must be responsible for the 3,000 deaths. I hope that justice will shine a light on that, it is what the victims are asking for.”

ICC judges acquitted Gbagbo and his aide Charles Ble Goude on charges stemming from a wave of violence after disputed elections in the west African nation in 2010.

More than 3,000 people died on both sides of the Ivory Coast conflict after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara, his internationally backed rival.

File photo of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. – AP

Gbagbo, the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC, is currently living in Belgium under conditions pending a possible prosecution appeal following the acquittal on January 15.

He had been held in the Netherlands since 2011.

The ICC’s unwillingness to let Gbagbo return to Ivory Coast is thought to have been linked to the country’s refusal to surrender Gbagbo’s first wife, Simone, despite an outstanding ICC warrant for her arrest for her role in the post-election violence.

She was convicted and jailed by the courts there in 2015, but Ouattara granted her an amnesty last year along with 800 others.

“We are continuing our investigations in order to establish who is responsible (for the deaths),” Ouattara said in the interview to be broadcast on Monday.