78-Year-Old Ouattara Sworn In For Third Term As Ivory Coast President

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara is sworn in on December 14, 2020 in Abidjan.
SIA KAMBOU / POOL / AFP

 

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara was sworn in for a controversial third term on Monday, urging the opposition to help defuse tensions after election-related violence claimed 85 lives in the West African powerhouse.

The ceremony was attended by 13 African counterparts as well as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy — but boycotted by the opposition, as was the October 31 election that returned Ouattara to power.

“I ask all political parties to seize this new opportunity… to defuse tensions through dialogue,” the 78-year-old president said, noting publicly for the first time that legislative elections will be held in the first quarter of 2021.

Ouattara promised the creation of a national reconciliation ministry in the next government, while stressing that “violence and intolerable acts… should not go unpunished”.

It was a tacit warning to several opposition leaders who were arrested in the wake of the election, with legal proceedings over “sedition” launched against them.

But leading opposition figure Henri Konan Bedie last week proposed a “national dialogue”.

He also announced the dissolution of a rival government, the “National Transition Council”, that the opposition set up after the election, a move that landed spokesman Pascal Affi N’Guessan in jail.

READ ALSO: US Electoral College Set To Confirm Biden Victory

Bedie, 86, a former president himself, stopped short of recognising Ouattara’s re-election with more than 94 percent of the vote.

Ouattara and his supporters had argued that a 2016 revision of the constitution reset his term counter to zero, allowing him to seek a third term.

He had initially planned to step down after serving two terms, with his then prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly in pole position to succeed him.

But Ouattara changed his mind after Coulibaly unexpectedly died in July.

On Monday, Ouattara gave a nod to Coulibaly, saying: “I would have liked so much to see him in my place.”

– Memories of civil war –
Pre- and post-election violence has claimed at least 85 lives since August, with around 500 injured, according to an official toll.

For many Ivorians, the bloodletting revived painful memories of the aftermath of disputed elections in 2010.

A political standoff was followed by a brief civil war in which around 3,000 people died and an estimated 1.3 million people fled their homes.

Ouattara has asked his prime minister, Hamed Bakayoko, to resume discussions with the opposition on the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI).

The opposition is demanding a reform of the body, which it accuses of bias.

In his speech on Monday, Ouattara said he would devote his third term to education and the social safety net as well as reconciliation, vowing to lift three million people out of poverty.

While the country of 25 million has enjoyed strong economic growth and the completion of several infrastructure projects under Ouattara, critics say the poorest have been left behind.

Ouattara also vowed to step up the fight against corruption, both in the government and the private sector.

In a light-hearted moment, the president spoke of his nicknames for his various counterparts attending the event — from “little brother” for Benin’s Patrice Talon, aged 62, to the “emir of the Sahel” for Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger.

But his nickname for 77-year-old Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso, in power for 36 years, raised eyebrows: “emperor”.

AFP

Ivory Coast President Urges Calm In Tense Election For Third Term

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independance from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan. SIA KAMBOU / AFP
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independence from France on August 7, 2020, at the presidential palace in Abidjan.
SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara urged opponents to give up a campaign of civil disobedience during Saturday’s election when he is seeking a contested third term that critics reject as unconstitutional.

At least 30 people have been killed in pre-election clashes since August, stoking fears of a return to the violence that left 3,000 dead in a crisis a decade ago when then president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down.

A former IMF economist in power since 2010, Ouattara is facing off with veteran opposition leader Henri Konan Bedie in a bitter rivalry that has marked the West African country’s politics for decades.

Ouattara’s decision to run again angered opposition leaders who called for a boycott and civil disobedience over a third mandate they branded an “electoral coup”.

“I appeal to those who launched this slogan for civil disobedience which has led to deaths: Stop. Ivory Coast needs peace,” Ouattara said after he voted in Abidjan.

“I urge young people not to let themselves be manipulated.”

Abidjan was calm, but protesters blocked the main route to the north, near the central town of Djebonoua, 350 kilometres (220 miles) from the economic capital, local residents said.

Groups of youths also set up makeshift barricades in some neighbourhoods in and around Daoukro, stronghold of opposition leader Bedie, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

“We got up very early to put up barricades to stop the election and respect the boycott,” said one youth Jean, standing at a blockade of tree branches.

Electoral material had still not arrived in Daoukro.

In Bouadikro and Bongouanou, a stronghold of another opposition leader, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, north of Abidjan, polling stations had not opened, witnesses said.

Roadblocks were erected between the towns, and young protesters were warning “No vote here”, witnesses said.

More than 35,000 police and security force officials have been mobilised to secure the election.

“The process has been tense,” said Patrick Allou, 32, waiting to vote in Abidjan’s Plateau district. “Everyone has their opinion but you should express it democratically. No one needs to die in an election.”

Polls close at 1800 GMT, though it is not clear when the results will be released. Electoral authorities by law have up to five days to announce the results.

– Growth, stability –
The ballot in French-speaking West Africa’s economic powerhouse is a crunch test in a region where Nigeria faces widespread social protests, Mali is emerging from a coup and jihadist violence wracks the Sahel.

Ouattara, 78, was supposed to step aside after his second term to make way for a younger generation, but the sudden death of his chosen successor led to a change in plan.

The Ivorian leader says a constitutional court ruling approved his third term, allowing him to bypass two-term presidential limits after a 2016 legal reform.

His supporters expect a strong win, touting his record in bringing infrastructure projects, economic growth and stability to the world’s top cocoa producer after a decade of instability.

But Bedie, 86, and opposition leaders accuse the electoral commission and the constitutional court of favouring the government, making a fair and transparent vote impossible.

The constitutional court rejected 40 other candidacies, including those of Gbagbo, 75, and former rebel leader turned prime minister Guillaume Soro.

Both men are outside the country but retain loyal followings in their local Ivorian strongholds.

– Appeal for calm –
While the UN has called for calm, the opposition urged supporters to carry out an “active” boycott and a campaign to block the vote, stoking fears of violence in opposition strongholds.

“The question is what will the opposition do after November 1?” said Sylvain N’Guessan, director and political analyst at the Abidjan Strategies institute.

The weeks before the election saw sporadic clashes in the south of the country, mainly between local ethnic groups close to the opposition and Dioula communities seen as loyal to the president, himself a Muslim from the north.

The country’s political feuds are often closely tied up with its leaders’ ethnic identities and regional loyalties.

Police fired tear gas on Friday in the political capital Yamoussoukro to break up fighting between Dioula youth and opposition-aligned Baoule communities.

A decade ago, Ivory Coast was emerging from civil war and the country was split in two, the north held by rebels and the south by forces of then-president Gbagbo.

Ouattara won a long-postponed election in 2010 although Gbagbo refused to accept defeat. After battles in Abidjan, French forces intervened to help Ouattara loyalists oust the former president.

Violence Erupts As Ivorians Protest President’s Third-Term Bid

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independance from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan. SIA KAMBOU / AFP
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independence from France on August 7, 2020, at the presidential palace in Abidjan. SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

 

Protests on Monday against Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s contentious plan to run for a third term turned violent in several cities as fears grow of a repeat of a conflict that claimed 3,000 lives in the West African country a decade ago.

In the economic capital Abidjan, protesters torched a bus in the working-class district of Yopougon, an AFP photographer said, after scuffles broke out earlier in the day between security forces and youths.

The district is thought to be a fief of exiled former president Laurent Gbagbo, whose supporters have filed an application for him to run in the October 31 presidential election.

It was Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara after the 2010 election that sparked the bloody conflict in the former French colony, formerly a beacon of stability and prosperity in the region.

In the centre-west city of Bangolo, demonstrators set fire to a mining truck and other vehicles on Monday, according to a resident who requested anonymity, who added that gendarmes dispersed them with tear gas.

 

A burnt bus belonging to the Abidjan Transport Company is seen that was set on fire by opposition demonstrators in Youpougon, a popular district of Abidjan, on September 14, 2020, during a demonstration against the third candidacy of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara in the upcoming presidential election of October 31, 2020. SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

Witnesses said security forces took down barricades set up by protesters on several roads in the west of the former French colony.

Around 15 people have died in violence since Ouattara, 78, announced last month that he would run for a third term.

Although the constitution limits presidents to two terms, Ouattara and his supporters argue that a 2016 constitutional tweak reset the clock.

The president had previously committed to not running again, but he changed his mind after the sudden death of his anointed successor, prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, from a heart attack in July.

The constitutional council is expected to release a list this week of the candidates who will be allowed to contest the vote from among 44 applicants, with two of the most prominent hopefuls — Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro — expected to be sidelined.

The electoral commission has said that anyone convicted of a crime will be disqualified and has already barred Soro from running as he was sentenced in April to 20 years in prison for “concealment of embezzlement of public funds”.

Gbagbo has been sentenced in absentia to a 20-year term over the looting of the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the 2010-11 crisis.

Former president Henri Konan Bedie is expected to be the opposition’s mean flagbearer, and his PDCI party nominated the 86-year-old as its candidate on Saturday.

At a rally attended by tens of thousands of supporters in the capital Yamoussoukro, Bedie pledged if elected to work for “the unconditional return of all exiles, as well as the release of all political, civilian and military prisoners from the post-election crisis”.

Bedie is seeking to return to the presidency after he was ousted in the country’s first coup in 1999.

AFP

Outrage Over Ivory Coast President’s Third Term Bid

A picture taken on August 5, 2019 shows Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara applauding during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Abidjan. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP
A picture taken on August 5, 2019 shows Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara applauding during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Abidjan. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term in October’s presidential election triggered outrage on Friday among opposition and civil society groups, who labelled it a “coup” that risked tipping the country into chaos.

Ouattara, in power since 2010, said in March that he would not run for re-election, which the opposition has strongly maintained he was unable to do anyway because the constitution limits presidents to two terms.

But the race was turned on its head by the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly — seen as Ouattara’s anointed successor — from a heart attack in July.

The shock news ramped up the volatility for the tense October 31 vote, which takes place in the shadow cast by political violence following 2010’s election in which around 3,000 people died.

Ouattara said on Thursday that he would run after all, citing “a case of force majeure” after the death of his ruling RHDP party’s candidate Coulibaly “left a void”.

The constitution limits presidents to two five-year terms.

But a new constitution was adopted in 2016, which Ouattara and his supporters argue reset the clock, allowing him to run again — an interpretation strongly contested by the opposition.

Assoa Adou, the general secretary of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), one of the country’s two main opposition parties, said: “Alassane Ouattara cannot in any case stand in the election. His own experts have said so.”

‘Organised state coup’

N’Goran Djedri of the West African country’s largest opposition party PDCI said Ouattara “is not above the law”.

“The people of Ivory Coast must demand the exact application of the 2016 constitution, which stipulates in article 183 that the legislation currently in force remains applicable.”

Policemen beat a demonstrator during a rally of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo's supporters to protest against his absence on the presidential candidates electoral list, near the electoral commission headquarters on boulevard Latrille in Cocody district of Abidjan on August 6, 2020.  SIA KAMBOU / AFP
Policemen beat a demonstrator during a rally of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters to protest against his absence on the presidential candidates electoral list, near the electoral commission headquarters on boulevard Latrille in Cocody district of Abidjan on August 6, 2020. SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

Moussa Toure, the communications director of presidential candidate and former prime minister Guillaume Soro, said: “We are facing an organised state coup in the sense that Mr Ouattara’s plan constitutes a serious violation” of the constitution.

“His decision to run for a third term takes us back 10 years and risks plunging Ivory Coast back into a period of fear, division and chaos,” Toure added.

It was not just opposition parties expressing outrage.

“By succumbing to the temptation of political eternity, you risk driving Ivory Coast into chaos,” popular Ivorian singer Meiway said on social media. “Are you to sacrifice everything you have built to put yourself on the wrong side of history?”

Satirical writer Gauz said the “old are not wise, they act like they’re in a playground,” referring to both 78-year-old Ouattara and his arch-foe and biggest rival, 86-year-old former president Henri Konan Bedie of the PDCI.

“It is despairing for the youth who represent four fifths of the Ivorian population,” Gauz added.

Supporters express ‘immense joy’

The leaders of Ouattara’s ruling RHDP did not respond to requests to comment on Friday.

But Ouattara did lead a 15-minute ceremony at the presidential palace on Friday marking the 60th anniversary of Ivory Coast’s independence, after the celebrations were scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After his announcement on Thursday, RHDP supporters celebrated in the economic capital Abidjan, the second-largest city of Bouake and Ouattara’s stronghold of Korhogo, according to AFP journalists and residents.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independance from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan. SIA KAMBOU / AFP
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independance from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan.
SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

“It is an immense joy which animates us. We are going to make short work of our adversaries” in the election, said Siaka Sylla, an RHDP youth leader in Bouake.

The election comes after a low-level civil war and political turmoil that erupted in 2011 when former strongman Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Ouattara after losing elections. The ensuing unrest claimed some 3,000 lives.

Besides Ouattara and Bedie, the October election is also being contested by Gbagbo’s former prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, former foreign minister Marcel Amon-Tanoh and ex-education minister Albert Toikeusse Mabri

Former rebel chief Soro is also running but he lives in self-imposed exile in France, facing a long list of legal problems.

Gbagbo, freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over the 2010-2011 bloodshed, has applied for a passport so that he can return home for the election.

 

AFP

‘Someone Must Be Responsible,’ Cote D’Ivoire President Condemns Poll Deaths

Cote D’Ivoire President, Alassane Ouattara

 

Cote D’ Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara has refused to comment on the acquittal on crimes against humanity of his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court while insisting investigations would continue.

“No reaction from me, it’s an ongoing trial…,” Ouattara said in an interview with Radio France International in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where he was attending an African Union summit.

But he added: “Someone must be responsible for the 3,000 deaths. I hope that justice will shine a light on that, it is what the victims are asking for.”

ICC judges acquitted Gbagbo and his aide Charles Ble Goude on charges stemming from a wave of violence after disputed elections in the west African nation in 2010.

READ ALSO: Cote D’Ivore’s Gbagbo Seeks Immediate Release From ICC

More than 3,000 people died on both sides of the Ivory Coast conflict after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara, his internationally backed rival.

Gbagbo, the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC, is currently living in Belgium under conditions pending a possible prosecution appeal following the acquittal on January 15.

He had been held in the Netherlands since 2011.

The ICC’s unwillingness to let Gbagbo return to Ivory Coast is thought to have been linked to the country’s refusal to surrender Gbagbo’s first wife, Simone, despite an outstanding ICC warrant for her arrest for her role in the post-election violence.

She was convicted and jailed by the courts there in 2015, but Ouattara granted her an amnesty last year along with 800 others.

“We are continuing our investigations in order to establish who is responsible (for the deaths),” Ouattara said in the interview to be broadcast Monday.

And he denied that any pressure had been brought to bear on the ICC to prolong the detention or trial of Gbago.

“Interfering with international or national justice, this is not how I manage my country… let justice take its course,” he said, refusing to discuss any possible return of Gbagbo. “Let’s wait and see.”

 ‘No problem’ with Soro’ 

Ouattara also returned to the subject of the resignation of the speaker of the National Assembly, Guillaume Soro, who headed rebel forces during the Ivorian war and then joined the government under Gbagbo.

Soro is a member of Ouattara’s Rally of Republicans (RDR) and is rumoured to have fallen out with Ouattara and possibly to have his own presidential ambitions.

Ouattara said he believed there were ideological differences between the two but  “no problem” between them.

“I’m not a man to force anyone (to resign)… Soro believed that we did not share the same ideology. We are a social liberal party and he considers himself a Marxist. I understand that this is not compatible with his beliefs,” he said, adding: “He is a young man that I consider as one on my sons. I do not rule out that he will return.”

Nor did Ouattara rule out Soro standing for the presidency in 2020.

“It’s his choice, he can do as he wishes. The Constitution authorises him to do so and it is not a question of me standing in the way of his candidature….”

Gbagbo’s release has come at a particularly tense time in Ivory Coast.

With presidential elections due next year, Ouattara has not said whether he will seek another term, and the coalition he formed with Henri Konan Bedie, his former ally against Gbagbo, has collapsed.

“It’s very clear, I can run if I want. There’s a new constitution (since 2016),” he said.

“All the legal opinions that I have consulted have confirmed it. I will announce my decision in 2020. I can take a decision up until July 28, 2020,” he said.

AFP

Cote D’Ivoire’s President Grants Simone Gbagbo Amnesty

President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara

 

Cote d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara on Monday announced amnesties for around 800 people, including former first lady Simone Gbagbo who is currently behind bars, in the name of national reconciliation.

Last week, Cote d’Ivoire’s Supreme Court overturned an earlier acquittal granted to Gbagbo for crimes against humanity.

The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo, in power from 2000 to 2010, will “soon be freed,” Ouattara said during a televised address to the West African nation on the eve of the country’s independence day.

Simone Gbagbo has been serving a 20-year sentence handed to her in 2015 for “endangering state security”.

In this file photo taken on May 9, 2016, Ivory Coast’s former first lady Simone Gbagbo waves at her supporters as she arrives at Abidjan’s courthouse prior to the opening hearing of her trial over charges of crimes against humanity for her alleged role in the 2010 electoral violence. 
ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Laurent Gbagbo has been in detention at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for seven years.

Since 2016, he has been tried for alleged crimes against humanity during post-election unrest in 2010.

Among the others granted amnesties by Ouattara on Monday were former defence minister Lida Kouassi — a key ally of Laurent Gbagbo — who was sentenced this year to 15 years for conspiracy, and former construction minister Assoa Adou, jailed in 2017 for four years.

“On Monday I signed an amnesty order that will benefit about 800 citizens prosecuted or sentenced for offences related to the post-election crisis of 2010 or state security offences committed after May 21, 2011, (the date of Ouattara’s inauguration),” the president said in his address.

Around 500 of those named have already been released provisionally from detention, he added. They will have their criminal records erased.

The other 300 will be released “soon”, he added, without giving any dates.

The question of national reconciliation in Cote d’Ivoire, or the lack of it, has been seen by observers as a black mark against Ouattara.

About 3,000 people died in the turmoil that swept Abidjan — once one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities — in the aftermath of the November 2010 presidential polls when Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to bitter rival Ouattara.

AFP

President Buhari Condemns Terrorist Attack On Cote D’ivoire

Terrorist AttackPresident Muhammadu Buhari has condemned Sunday’s terrorist attack on the Grand Bassam Resort in Cote D’Ivoire.

In a telephone call to President Alassane Ouattara after the attack, President Buhari conveyed the sympathy of the Federal Government and people of Nigeria to the people of Cote D’Ivoire as they mourn their compatriots and foreign visitors who lost their lives in the attack.

The President assured his Ivorian counterpart of Nigeria’s full solidarity and support as his country grapples with the consequences of the heinous attack and strives to overcome the new security challenges posed by the terrorist incursion.

Remarking once again that terrorism now transcends all national boundaries, President Buhari restated his call for greater international cooperation against terrorists and their sponsors.

“They have attacked a hotel in Mali, leaving 21 people dead. They killed over 130 people in attacks on Paris and they murdered 28 persons in Burkina Faso.

“Terrorism does not respect territorial boundaries again. That is why the world has to come together, present a common front and deal with these merchants of evil,” President Buhari said.

President Ouattara thanked President Buhari for Nigeria’s sympathy and solidarity.

Ivory Coast Ex-President Presented As Peace-Loving Victim of France

ivory coastFormer Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, charged with fomenting a 2010 crisis that led to 3,000 deaths, actually tried to resolve the deadlock that plunged the country into civil war, his lawyers said on Monday.

Opening his defense against war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, they portrayed him as a victim of French colonial meddling who had sought peace.

Gbagbo, the highest ranking politician ever to appear before the court, stands accused of stoking the ethnic strive that sparked a four-month civil war after he refused to step down following his failed bid to be reelected president in 2010.

The case has the potential to stoke political tensions in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa grower, where Gbagbo remains influential. His trial opening last week was attended by hundreds of his supporters and closely followed at home.

Gbagbo’s lawyers said prosecutors had presented a selective account of recent Ivory Coast history, glossing over alleged crimes committed by his successor and political rival Alassane Outtara, who was re-elected last year.

“Laurent Gbagbo continually sought solutions to the post-electoral crisis, proposing for example that votes be re-counted,” said defense lawyer Jennifer Naouri. “Ouattara didn’t agree to this.”

Naouri said prosecutors portrayed Ivory Coast’s defining political conflict in overly simple terms, ignoring a string of attempted coups allegedly launched by Ouattara’s supporters during Gbagbo’s decade-long presidency.

Last week, prosecutors presented detailed descriptions of alleged crimes, including mass rape and murder by supporters of a president determined to keep power at any price.

The high-profile case is seen as a test of the credibility of the 13-year-old court, which has secured just two convictions since it was established.

A case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta collapsed last year amid intense lobbying by Kenya and its African allies, testing its ability to prosecute senior figures.

Gbagbo’s supporters have criticized the court for only bringing charges against him, his wife Simone and his associate, youth leader Charles Ble Goude, while leaving Ouattara’s supporters unchallenged.

His lawyers said his downfall and arrest after the election was punishment for crossing France, the former colonial power that intervened militarily to end the civil war in 2011, allowing Ouattara to take office.

“Gbagbo will never be able to shed the image of an anti-French nationalist that has been stuck to him by supporters of Alassane Ouattara,” Naouri said. “The French establishment will never accept him.”

Former Ivory Coast President Gbagbo Denies War Crimes

Ivory CoastFormer President Laurent Gbagbo has denied the charges relating to Ivory Coast’s civil conflict that erupted after he lost elections in 2010.

Mr Gbagbo made the disclaimer on Thursday when he appeared at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the opening of his war crimes trial.

Gbagbo is the first former head of state to stand trial at the court in The Hague, and is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, accused Mr Gbagbo of orchestrating a ‘campaign of violence’.

She said that the trial was aimed to ‘uncover the truth’ as both Mr Gbagbo and his co-accused, former militia leader, Charles Ble Goude, said they were innocent.

The former President allegedly sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential poll.

At least 3,000 people were reportedly killed in the civil conflict that ensued.

Nigeria’s Election Is A Legacy To Emulate – Cote D’Ivoire’s President

ECOWAS-SUMMIT-MALI-GBISSAU-NIGERIAThe President of Cote D’Ivoire, Mr Allassane Ouattara, has described Nigeria’s presidential election as a legacy that all the countries in the African continent should emulate.

Mr Ouattara made the remark after holding talks with the President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, on Monday.

The Ivorian President, who was at the Presidential Villa at about midday, congratulated President Jonathan, the Nigerian people and the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.

He stressed that what happened in Nigeria was a lesson for all, apparently referring to the decision by President Jonathan to concede defeat even before the winner of the presidential election was declared.

Mr Ouattara further extolled the leadership qualities of the outgoing President, describing him as, first a West African before a Nigerian.

He talked about his experience in the presidential election that brought him to power and how the then President of Cote D’Ivoire Mr. Lauren Gbagbo, holed him into a hotel for four months after the election.

Mr Gbagbo had rejected the election results and refused to hand over to Mr Ouattara, a decision that led to a civil war that claimed the lives of over 3,000 people five years ago.

He said that avoiding violence and civil war during elections in Africa should be the utmost objectives of those who want to lead, emphasising that people are more important than power.

He also thanked President Jonathan for the leadership role he provided for the ECOWAS, his commitment to fighting the Boko Haram sect and his interventions in the return of peace in countries like Mali, Guinea Bissau and Togo

Ivory Coast Army Retakes Border Town After Attack Kills 13

Fighters from the Republican Forces rebels walk at the village of Pekanhouebly on the border of Ivory Coast and LiberiaCote d’Ivoire’s army took back control of a village on its southwestern border with Liberia on Friday after gunmen seized it in an attack that left 13 people dead, the country’s defense minister said.

Around 40 men attacked and looted the village of Fetai, located on the Cavally River separating Cote d’Ivoire Coast and Liberia, early on Thursday, Paul Koffi Koffi told journalists in the commercial capital Abidjan.

The Ivorian military launched a counter-attack early on Friday to drive them out.

“There was an ambush that killed three (soldiers)… Ten were killed among the civilian population. We’re carrying out clean-up operations in the forest and we’ve gone all the way to the Cavally River … The situation is under control,” he said.

Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s top cocoa producer, is recovering from a decade-long political crisis that culminated in a brief 2011 civil war after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his election defeat to Alassane Ouattara.

Gunmen from Liberia have staged several assaults on towns near the border in recent years that the government and United Nations have blamed on Liberian mercenaries and Gbagbo allies. Fetai was last attacked in February.

“This isn’t an attack like the other times … These are the youth from the region who are refugees. They are bandits,” Koffi Koffi said.

Nigeria-South Africa Relations: Beyond Rivalry To Stronger Ties

Ambassador Lulu Mngunu of South Africa. Nigeria and South Africa’s relations date back to decades ago, with Nigeria topping the list of foremost supporters of Black South African liberation movements, including the African National Congress.

During the period, the Nigerian government issued more than 300 passports to South Africans seeking to travel abroad.

Few years after the apartheid in South Africa, what seemed like a very close relationship gradually turned into rivalry, with Nigerians suffering xenophobic attacks, a development that has been described by Nigerians as a ‘stab in the back’.

As at 2011 over 24,000 Nigerians were living in South Africa.

Increasing competition between the two countries for positions at multilateral organisations is also thought to have worsened relations.

There have been conflicting interests between both countries, as it relates to politics in Africa. One of which was seen during the crisis that erupted in Cote d’Ivoire after the election. While South Africa supported incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to continue in office, Nigeria was in favour of Alassane Ouattara to take over as president.

However, beyond the seeming rivalry between both countries, the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan was in South Africa in May 2013 in a major visit that drew attention away from any rivalry to focus on Africa.

During the visit, Jonathan urged African leaders to pay greater attention to the economic emancipation of the people as a way of consolidating the achievements recorded in the liberation of the continent.

He said that Nigeria and South Africa were not in competition but are brothers striving for the greater good of the continent.

Channels Television had a chat with South Africa’s High commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Lulu Mngunu, about the ties that bind both countries and how to make it stronger.

Ambassador Mngunu described Nigeria as “a country that is hinged on the philosophy of Pan-Africanism, as expounded by Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and many other leaders who always believe that Africa cannot be free if it had in it some countries that are not free”. The philosophy, he said, entails the struggle towards integrating and becoming one to enable the continent overcome its challenges whether political or economic.

He pointed out that the South African foreign policy is based on the consolidation of the African Agenda.

Beyond Xenophobic Attacks And Rivalry

“Our interests as South Africans are inextricably bound with those of the African continent. South Africa cannot make it alone. This was proved during the struggle. I am sure even now we will be in the trenches if we were to fight it alone. Thanks to our friends and our brothers from Nigeria,” Ambassador Mngunu said.

The friendly relationship seen during apartheid has been taunted with the increasing xenophobic attacks Nigerians in South Africa are experiencing.

However, Ambassador Mngunu, insisted that ‘xenophobia was not part of South Africa’s foreign policy’.

“We have our own law to punish anybody that harasses or engages negatively on the people… whether South Africans, Namibians or Nigerians. We are educating our people that we have come a long way with these people. We have shared trenches fighting against apartheid and we are now sharing trenches to bring about peace in Africa,” He said.

To bring an end to these attacks, he emphasised that the South African government has set up a programme aimed at educating South Africans on the nation’s foreign policies, as it relates to migrants.

Beyond the attack and rivalry, the ambassador pointed out several areas that both countries are exploring to ensure they benefit from each other and strengthen ties. One of which is the mining sector; an area South Africa has over 100 years’ experience in.

The ambassador also explained the issues surrounding the issuance of South African Visa, which Nigerians have complained was becoming difficult to obtain.

Get more information about issues on xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa and its visa policies in the video.