from ALEXIS DOUMBIA in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
ABIDJAN, (CAJ News) – AUTHORITIES in Ivory Coast have been urged to investigate the killing of more than 50 people in the political and inter-communal violence that marred elections at the end of October.
Security forces are blamed for the minority killings and used excessive force to disperse opposition-led protests.
Nine towns, including the capital Abidjan, were the scene of street clashes fought with machetes, clubs, and hunting rifles by rival supporters as President Alassane Ouattara was re-elected for a third term, with a reported 94 percent of the vote in the election that main opposition parties boycotted.
Jim Wormington, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), noted that the recent killings pushed Ivory Coast toward a deadly spiral of violence, a decade after the 2010-11 post-election conflict left over 3 000 dead.
“Respecting the right to freedom of expression and assembly, including for opposition leaders and their supporters, will be a key ingredient to a peaceful resolution of the current crisis,” Wormington said.
Since the election, Ivorian authorities have arrested a dozen opposition party members who rejected the results.
The opposition members, including Pascal Affi N’Guessan, a former prime minister, were held incommunicado and questioned without access to lawyers for several days.
Three opposition members, including N’Guessan, remained in detention, while nine others had been released on conditional bail.
They have been charged with terrorism, attacks against the authority of the state and murder relating to the opposition parties’ call for “civil disobedience” prior to and during the election.
– CAJ News