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Cote d’Ivoire's president, Alassane Ouattara, at the African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Gbagbo’s Trial Is the Latest Sign of Victor’s Justice in Cote d’Ivoire

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Five years after Cote d’Ivoire’s 2011 post-election crisis came to a bloody end, the trial of former First Lady Simone Gbagbo for crimes against humanity is set to open this month in Abidjan, the country’s biggest city and economic hub. More than 3,000 people were killed, 150 women raped and hundreds of thousands displaced during five months of fighting after Gbagbo’s husband, then-incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down despite losing the November 2010 presidential runoff vote to challenger Alassane Ouattara. Simone Gbagbo’s trial will mark the first time an Ivoirian court has dealt with international crimes committed during that conflict, which triggered the worst violence the country has experienced since its independence in 1960.

Yet justice and human rights advocates are hardly rejoicing. To the contrary, they’re worried the trial will merely reinforce the Ivoirian judiciary’s reputation for being shoddy and biased—a reputation that continues to undermine progress the country has made in other areas. Since taking office in May 2011, Ouattara has received high marks for overseeing an economic rebound and restoring security. Last October, he crushed a divided opposition to win a second five-year term in a peaceful election. But the handling of cases stemming from the 2011 conflict remains a glaring blemish on his record. ...

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