Ouattara overshadowed by mass killings

Ouattara overshadowed by mass killings

Ouattara’s rival Laurent Gbagbo, meanwhile, was left isolated behind a military cordon in the bunker where he has sought refuge after a concerted assault by Ouattara’s troops earlier this week.

Ouattara appears for now to have decided to isolate Gbagbo in his Abidjan residence, rather than press ahead with attempts to drive him out by military force, and concentrate instead on efforts to restore normal life after weeks of fighting.

But Ouattara’s ability to unify the West African state may be undermined by reports of atrocities since his forces—a collection of former rebels from the north—swept south into Abidjan, the commercial capital, more than a week ago.

The United Nations human rights office said on Friday it found 115 corpses in the west in the past 24 hours, adding to the 800 dead reported by aid groups last week.

Ouattara said his soldiers had blockaded Gbagbo in the presidential residence—an ironic twist after Ouattara suffered months in a hotel under siege by Gbagbo’s troops following last November’s disputed election.

In a speech late on Thursday, Ouattara said he would seek to restore security and basic services and would also pursue investigations into reported serious abuses by both his and Gbagbo’s troops since fighting began.

Ouattara won the November presidential poll by 8 percentage points, according to UN-certified results, but Gbagbo rejected the outcome citing fraud and accused the UN of meddling in Ivorian affairs.

The poll was meant to draw a line under Ivory Coast’s 2002-3 civil war, but the dispute over results rekindled it, turning Abidjan—once known as the ‘Paris of West Africa’—once again into a war zone.

A commander for the French military force in Ivory Coast, Licorne (Unicorn), said on Friday its troops would carry out mixed patrols with police and gendarmes now loyal to Ouattara to restore security and rebuild infrastructure.

“Today, the main efforts of the Licorne force will be the following: help return things to normal and assist in the restoration of state authority,” said Frederick Daguillon, spokesman for the force.