Ivory Coast: Gbagbo And Wife Charged With ‘Economic Crimes’

The government of Ivory Coast has filed charges against ex-president Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone. They were ousted from power in April, and have since been detained.

Report says Mr. Gbagbo was charged Thursday with economic crimes, including armed robbery, looting and embezzlement. His wife was charged on Tuesday.

The two had been under house arrest since April 11, following four months of post-election violence.

Ivorian authorities arrested 57 soldiers from Gbagbo’s regime last Thursday, and charged them with crimes ranging from murder and kidnapping to attacking state security and buying illegal arms.

In 2010, Ivory Coast had a presidential election that saw Gbagbo face off with Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo, whose mandate had expired in 2005, had delayed the election several times.

The second round of the presidential election was later held and Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner with 54.1% of the vote. Gbagbo’s party complained of fraud and ordered that votes from nine regions be annulled, but the claims were disputed by the Ivoirian Electoral Commission and international election observers.

The Constitutional Council, headed by a staunch supporter of Gbagbo, nullified the declaration based on alleged voting fraud, and excluded votes from nine northern areas. The Constitutional Council concluded that without these votes Gbagbo won with 51% of the remaining vote. The constitutional restriction on Presidents serving more than ten years was not addressed.

With a significant portion of the country’s vote nullified, tensions mounted in the country. Gbagbo ordered the army to close the borders and foreign news organizations were banned from broadcasting from within the country. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the government to “act responsibly and peacefully.”

President Alassane Ouattara’s government is tracking down members of the former regime, who are suspected of using violence against civilians seen as pro-Ouattara during and after a disputed November election, and of looting the treasury to remain in power despite harsh Western sanctions.

The developments in the country have been welcomed by world leaders. U.S. President Barack Obama cheered news of the latest developments in the Ivory Coast and CNN quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying Gbagbo’s capture “sends a strong signal to dictators and tyrants…. They may not disregard the voice of their own people”

Leave a Reply