ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire -- Last week, five suspects appeared at Abidjan’s Palace of Justice for the opening of the first trial related to Côte d’Ivoire’s recent bout of postelection violence. The conflict, which began after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down despite losing the November 2010 election to current President Alassane Ouattara, claimed at least 3,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands. Eighteen months after the power struggle ended with Gbagbo’s arrest in April 2011, persistent political divisions have largely thwarted efforts at national reconciliation.
The beginning of the justice process is seen as a potential catalyst for progress. However, as Côte d’Ivoire tries to move on from the violence, it faces a choice between balanced justice, by which all those responsible will be held accountable for their roles in the conflict, and a form of victor’s justice, with its attendant impunity for those on the winning side. ...
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