IVORY COAST COURT SENTENCES FORMER POLTICAL LEADER TO 20 YEARS

BY : Shruti Sharma

BACKGROUND :

Charles Ble Gourde is a political leader of the Ivory Coast. While studying at the University of Cocody, his political career began during the late 1990s. He had an active participation in the political strikes and demonstrations of the Student Federation of Cote d’Ivoire (FESCI). He went on to hold the position of the Secretary General of the FESCI from 1998 to 2000. In the year 2001, he founded Congres Panafricain des jeunes et des Patriotes (COJEP) which was later on known as the Young Patriot. Since he always had the ability to ignite the crowd, he came to be infamously known as the Street General. The year 2004 witnessed the first Ivorian Civil War. The allegations were placed on the French Peacekeeping Troops that they were plotting a military coup on the Ivorian government. Ble along with his mass supporters demonstrated and this also lead to attacks on the French and other foreign nationals residing near the residence of President Gbagbo. The militia attacked the French and Lebanese, and also raped their women. This lead to an evacuation of the French and the other expatriates civilians from the country.
In the year 2006, the Young Patriots held a demonstration against the UN. The cause of the ruckus within the country was initiated when the UN mediator called for the dissolution of the National Assembly of Cote d’Ivoire and an end for the mandate of President Gbagbo. His supporters ransacked a community radio station, besieged a UN base and the French Embassy also. However, ironically, in 2007 Ble was titled as the ‘Ivorian Peace Ambassador’. He then travelled all over the nation to preach reconciliation. Later on, during the election which was supervised by the UN, he was campaigning for Gbagbo. The year 2013 marked the beginning of the end for Ble when an arrest warrant against him was issued by the Ghanaian Police and the Interpol Agents. He was charged with war crimes, assassinations, endangering state security and stealing of state property. He was presented before the High Court of Abidjan. By the March of 2014, he was presented before the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face the charges of crimes against humanity. The trial of Gbagbo and Ble were conducted simultaneously before the ICC. Even though, the Ivorian Court had held that he must be deprived of his civil rights for 10 years, he was acquitted of his crimes before the ICC.

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CURRENT SCENARIO :

During the elections in the year 2010, Laurant Gbagbo refused to concede to his defeat against the President Alassane Ouattara. This lead to a five months stand off period within the country. But during this period, it was later found out in the reports that approximately 3000 people went missing or died, of which, most were the opponents of Gbagbo. Although he was cleared of all the charges before the ICC, the prosecutor urged that he must be kept at the Netherlands till the matters are concluded. The Ivorian Court had sentenced him for an imprisonment of 20 years over murder, rape and torture charges which were prevailing against him. Upon the acquittal by the ICC, a fresh trial was moved by the Ivorian Court against Ble for the mishap of 2010 elections. The mass bloodshed was caused because of a disputed vote between the two candidates of the presidential elections. In his statement, Ble admitted that he was surprised by the verdict of the Ivorian Court. The Young Patriots had also threatened the internationally recognized President Mr. Ouattara and the UN during the second civil war in 2010. They began their demonstrations and propagated against the removal of Mr. Ouattara once the UN Peacekeeper retreated. The UN alleged that the demonstration by the Young Patriots witnessed the use of dangerous weapons and use of brute force on those who did not participate for their cause. When the power of Gbagbo was under any threat, they created a chaos and vandalised the state properties and threatened the national security. They were instigated by the motive of Ble to secure the position of Gbagbo and remain in control.

CONCLUSION :

The former aide to Gbagbo was sentenced to a 20 year jail time by the Ivorian Court even though he was acquitted of the charges against humanity by the International Criminal Court. Another fresh appeal was placed before the Ivorian Court on the grounds of torture, murder and rape of people who went missing or died during the political stand still after the 2010 elections. The opposition has also claimed that the current president is restricting the return of Gbagbo after the decision of the ICC and under the order for him to remain in the Netherlands. The elections of 2020 will decide the further economic performance of the Ivory Coast but this incident has already created turmoil within the country.

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