Ex-West Ham Striker Haller Stars As Côte d’Ivoire Beat Cameroon

Cameroon’s Bangou Tchamba (C) fights for the ball with Ivory Coast’s Serge Aurier (L) and Sebastien Haller (L) during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

 

Former West Ham attacker Sebastien Haller scored twice in nine minutes to give the Ivory Coast a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over fellow African top-10 nation Cameroon in Abidjan on Monday. 

Haller, who moved to Ajax Amsterdam last January after scoring 14 goals in 54 outings for the Hammers, converted a penalty on 20 minutes and later outpaced a defender and fired into the far corner of the net.

Moumi Ngamaleu pulled one goal back from another penalty, on 61 minutes, to set up a tense finish to the Group D showdown.

Ivory Coast top the table with four points after two rounds, Cameroon have three, and Mozambique one and Malawi none ahead of their match on Tuesday.

 

Ivory Coast’s and Cameroon’s players fight for the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Cameroon’s goalkeeper Roger Devis Mboka concedes a goal during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Group D is the only section of 10 in Africa featuring two countries among the 10 highest ranked in the continent — the Ivory Coast were 12th when the draw was made two years ago.

Meanwhile, South Africa edged Ghana 1-0 in Johannesburg through a 83rd-minute Bongokuhle Hlongwane goal and replaced them as Group G leaders.

Fielding a young, inexperienced side under recently hired Belgian coach Hugo Broos, the South Africans should have broken the deadlock earlier.

 

Ivory Coast’s Jean Evrard Kouassi (R) runs with ball next to Cameroon’s Nicolas Ngamaleu (L) and Bangou Tchamba (22) during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Percy Tau, who has quit English Premier League club Brighton to join Egyptian and African giants Al Ahly, had a first-half headed goal wrongly disallowed for offside.

Evidence Makgopa, one of many new faces after Broos complained about inheriting an “old” squad, missed a sitter just after half-time, poking the ball wide of an unguarded goal.

But with time running out and weakened Ghana looking like taking a point home, Hlongwane connected with a low cross and the ball rolled into the net via the far post.

Ghana lacked Premier League trio Daniel Amartey, Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp as South Africa is on the British coronavirus “red list”, which requires travellers to isolate for 10 days when they return.

 

Ivorian national football team players celebrate after scoring a goal during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium in Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

– Goal-shy Uganda –

South Africa have four points and Ghana three from two matches, and Zimbabwe one and Ethiopia none ahead of their meeting in Bahir Dar on Tuesday.

Mali, who are seeking a first World Cup appearance, took a firm grip on Group E by forcing a 0-0 draw away to 10-man Uganda.

Defender Murushid Juuko was shown a straight red card on 65 minutes and Uganda had to settle for another goalless stalemate, after holding Kenya last week.

Benin failed to build on a matchday 1 win in Madagascar and had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Group J rivals the Democratic Republic of Congo in Cotonou.

Both goals were headed by senior players during the opening half with Dieumerci Mbokani, 35, putting the Congolese in front and Jordan Adeoti, 32, levelling.

Benin have four points and DR Congo two, while Tanzania, who have one, and pointless Madagascar face off in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

Niger equalled their record for the number of goal scored in a World Cup qualifier by coming from behind to trounce Djibouti 4-2 in Group A with Victorien Adebayor bagging a brace.

Djibouti are ranked 182nd in the world, making them the lowest of the 40 African World Cup hopefuls, and have conceded 12 goals in two outings.

 

Ivory Coast’s Cornet Maxwel (L) fights for the ball with Cameroon’s Andre Anguissa (8) during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

The section is set to be dominated by African champions Algeria and Burkina Faso, both matchday 1 winners who clash on Tuesday in Morocco because the Burkinabe lack an international-standard stadium.

Djibouti, who have also created a base in Morocco, and Burkina Faso are among nine countries forced to use neutral venues either because the stadium facilities or the pitch are not up to scratch.

The Central African Republic and Liberia are other nations forced to play home matches abroad and they met in the Cameroonian port city of Douala, where Liberian Kpah Sherman scored the only goal.

Côte d’Ivoire Hails ‘Major’ Oil Discovery

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

 

 

Côte d’Ivoire on Wednesday reported a “major discovery” of oil and natural gas offshore after deepwater exploration by Italian firm Eni.

Energy minister Thomas Camara said the find was estimated at between 1.5 and 2 billion barrels of oil and around 1.8-2.4 trillion cubic feet (51 million cubic metres) of gas.

He said the development would “greatly increase Côte d’Ivoire’s proven reserves in the coming years”.

The 3,445-metre-deep well was drilled about 60 kilometres (40 miles) off the coast in 30 days, Eni said.

The firm added that it would now carry out a further evaluation of the wider potential of the find.

In a 2019 investment worth $185 million, Ivory Coast signed contracts with Eni and French firm Total to explore the possibility of ramping up Ivorian production.

Côte d’Ivoire to date has 51 identified oilfields with four in production, 26 in exploration and the remaining 21 still up for grabs.

In 2014, Total said exploration had shown “very promising” prospects.

Aside from Total and Eni, Britain’s Tullow Oil has also announced significant discoveries of Ivorian offshore oil reserves in recent years.

Cote d’Ivoire Detects First Bird Flu Cases Since 2015

bird flu
A file photo used to illustrate the story.

 

Ivory Coast has detected its first cases since 2015 of the H5N1 bird flu in poultry farms, the government said Thursday.

“Since July 20, high death rates among poultry were spotted in traditional and modern poultry firms in Mondoukou” east of the country’s economic hub Abidjan, Livestock and Fisheries Minister Sidi Tiemoko Toure said in a statement.

He added that “laboratory analysis confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu virus”.

The government has ordered all poultry in the affected area slaughtered.


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With memories in mind of past outbreaks in 2006 and 2015, ministers have also blocked poultry imports from infected countries.

A number of west African nations have reported H5N1 outbreaks since January.

The flu virus is transmitted both by poultry and migrating wild birds.

H5N1 and another strain, H7N9, have both made the jump to humans after infecting poultry, although cases of human-to-human transmission remain rare.

AFP

Cote d’Ivoire Records First Case Of Ebola

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical worker checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.  CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Cote d’Ivoire has recorded a first case of Ebola, the health minister announced late Saturday, the first occurrence of the deadly disease in nearly three decades.

Officials at the Institut Pasteur had confirmed the case after testing samples taken from an 18-year-old Guinean woman, Health Minister Pierre N’Gou Demba said on RTI state television.

She had left the city of Labe in Guinea by road, arriving in Ivory Coast on Wednesday, he added.

“This is an isolated and imported case,” he said, adding that the patient was currently being treated in intensive care in Abidjan.

Ivory Coast already had doses of the vaccine against Ebola, which go to anyone who had been in contact with her, such as the medical staff treating her.

Prime Minister Patrick Achi had chaired an emergency inter-ministerial meeting earlier Saturday, the minister added.

Appealing for calm, he said the authorities had already activated an emergency plan which included the identification and surveillance of anyone who had come into contact with the patient.

According to the World Health Organisation, this is the first case of Ebola in Ivory Coast since 1994.


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 ‘Immense concern’ 

In this file photo taken on March 09, 2019 Health workers are seen inside the ‘red zone’ of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Butembo.(Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

 

On June 19, the World Health Organization declared an end to a four-month outbreak of Ebola in Guinea that claimed the lives of 12 people there.

But a statement from WHO Africa on Saturday said: “There is no indication that the current case in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is linked to the earlier outbreak in Guinea.

“Further investigation and genomic sequencing will identify the strain and determine if there is a connection between the two outbreaks,” the statement added.

“It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than four million people,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa regional director, said in the statement.

“However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Cote d’Ivoire can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed.”

The WHO said it was helping to coordinate a cross-border response, which included transferring 5,000 doses of Ebola vaccine from Guinea to Ivory Coast.

Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.

In four decades, periodic Ebola outbreaks have killed around 15,000 people, all in Africa.

Its fatality rate in past outbreaks has varied between 25 and 90 percent.

But as the WHO pointed out: “There is now effective treatment available and if patients receive treatment early, as well as supportive care, their chances of survival improve significantly.”

AFP

Organic Crops Join Push To Ease Rural Poverty In Ivory Coast

Women prepares organic peanuts for their food store in Divo, Ivory Coast, on May 20, 2021. – Thousands of women in rural Ivory Coast have turned to organic food growing to gain financial independence. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Agathe Vanie looks proudly at the products on the shelves of her shop, the first organic stall in the southern central Ivory Coast city of Divo.

“We can make money,” she says.

A farmer by profession, Vanie is the president of Walo, a non-profit organisation she founded to bring local women together to grow and sell organic crops.

The eggplants, peanuts, peppers, turmeric and okra come from fields farmed by some 2,000 women around Divo who have joined forces through Walo, which means “love” in the local Dida language.

And, even if the veggies are priced higher than conventionally grown plants, their organic status attracts many customers — an important sign of growing sensitivity about food quality in this West African nation.

“The chemicals that we use to spray the soil, the plants, the fruits, give us diseases,” farmer Marie Michele Gbadjeli told AFP. “Since I discovered this shop, I’ve been eating healthy food.”

Ivory Coast’s major agricultural export is cocoa, with the country accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s market.

But a historic dependency on the crop exacerbates rural poverty whenever prices slump.

Vanie’s hope is that diversifying to cleaner crops will prove a more sustainable choice for their wallets and the environment.

“I brought the women together so that they could start farming organically, firstly for their health, and also so that they can be independent, send their children to school and get out of poverty,” Vanie said.

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“We will be able to earn money by going into a crop other than cocoa, by growing food crops without chemical fertilisers,” she added.

In the verdant village of Boko, farmer Florence Goubo said she was committed to the project and had no regrets.

“We no longer pump chemicals into the fields. The switch to organic has changed our lives,” says the mother of five, a hoe in her hand.

“We can earn a little money to take care of our children and educate them.”

Suzanne N’Dri told AFP: “We were tricked with chemical products.”

N’Dri grows bananas, yams and cassava, and plans to add organic food for pigs and goats to his output.

Growing organic means a return to many time-honoured agricultural practices: clearing land, letting leaves and grass rot and serve as natural fertiliser, and planting from the first rains.

But organic vegetables are more labour-intensive and time-consuming than products grown with chemicals which artificially boost soil fertility or kill pests.

The quality and the cost are reflected in the price differential. Walo’s organic products can sell in some cases for twice as much as conventional ones: a package of pepper that would normally be priced at 1000 CFA Francs (1.5 euros, $1.80) sells for 2000 CFA Francs.

But Madeleine Zebo, president of an association of women organic farmers in Boko, said customers were not deterred.

“We easily sell our peppers, eggplants, djoumgble (okra), honey, peanuts, taro root, tomatoes… at enviable prices,” Zebo says.

Boko village chief Gbaza Zourhouri shared her enthusiasm and noted that children were not being hauled out of school to work in the fields.

“The women have my support and my blessing. Before, all agricultural production was based on chemical products and phytosanitary concerns,” he said. “We were being poisoned.”

According to the World Bank, 28 percent of the population of Ivory Coast live below the poverty line on less than 1000 FCFA a day.

The rate is even higher among the country’s rural population with some 60 percent of farmers living below the poverty line.

Organic food has a long way to go in Africa before it gains the same recognition and popularity as in Europe and North America.

But initiatives like Walo that promote product traceability and quality are gaining ground. The trail was blazed in the cocoa sector, where foreign brands are capitalising on a demand for ethical produce.

Walo wants to use its early success to build a food processing plant — an initiative that would provide added value to local agriculture and create jobs — as well as a health centre.

AFP

25 Dead In Côte d’Ivoire Coach And Minibus Crash

Ivory Coast Map

 

At least 25 people were killed and 31 injured in a crash involving a coach and a minibus in Ivory Coast, the transport minister announced late Thursday.

“All measures have been taken to determine the exact causes of the tragedy, as well as where responsibility lies,” Amadou Kone said in a statement, adding the accident happened about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from financial capital Abidjan on Wednesday.

He urged Ivorians to be careful on the roads ahead of the Muslim festival of Tabaski — known elsewhere as Eid al-Adha — which normally sees an increase in traffic right in the middle of the rainy season.

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Traffic accidents are common and often deadly in the West African country, with many vehicles and roads poorly maintained.

Crashes are also frequently down to driver error — the practice of buying a licence from corrupt examiners is widespread.

In late April, authorities temporarily suspended driving test examiners and replaced them with police officers, to better fight “corruption and fraud”.

The move followed an accident in the country’s north that killed 20 and injured around 40 people.

Also on Wednesday, at least four people died in another traffic accident in Abidjan.

 

Former President Gbagbo Files For Divorce After Three Decades

In this file photo, former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019, where judges were expected to issue rulings on requests by Gbagbo and ex-government minister Charles Ble Goude to have their prosecutions thrown out for lack of evidence.  Peter Dejong / ANP / AFP

 

Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo filed for divorce Monday from his wife of three decades, his lawyer said, days after his highly anticipated return to the country.

Gbagbo’s lawyer Claude Mentenon said in a statement that after years of “repeated rejected requests for Simone Ehivet to consent to an amicable separation”, the ex-president had asked an Abidjan court for a divorce.

The announcement comes four days after Gbagbo returned to Ivory Coast following a decade’s absence, during which he was tried for crimes against humanity during the post-election conflict of 2010-11.

Simone Gbagbo wielded significant political influence as first lady, and was arrested alongside her husband in April 2011 after he refused to concede defeat, sparking a conflict that left some 3,000 people dead.

Gbagbo was sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he was definitively acquitted in March after a lengthy trial.

Simone Gbagbo was sentenced to 20 years’ prison in Ivory Coast for “violating state security”, but was released in 2018 after seven years of detention as part of an amnesty.

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Gbagbo’s homecoming comes after his once-bitter rival, current President Alassane Ouattara, embraced his return in the name of national reconciliation.

Laurent and Simone Gbagbo, who have two daughters, married in 1989 and campaigned alongside each other for the introduction of multi-party elections in the 1990s.

The 76-year-old ex-president, has been in a relationship for several years with 47-year-old former journalist Nady Bamba.

AFP

Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo Sets Homecoming For June 17

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo gestures as he enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019, where judges were expected to issue rulings on requests by Gbagbo and ex-government minister Charles Ble Goude to have their prosecutions thrown out for lack of evidence.  Peter Dejong / ANP / AFP

 

Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo will arrive home on the afternoon June 17 after being cleared of crimes against humanity for violence following the country’s 2010 election, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Gbagbo “will arrive on a Brussels Airlines flight in Abidjan on June 17,” spokesman Justin Katinan Kone told reporters.

His scheduled arrival time is 2 pm (1400 GMT), he said.

“He is coming for peace and he wants everything to happen peacefully” on his return, he added.

The former president was arrested in April 2011 over violence triggered by his refusal to acknowledge defeat in the previous year’s election, in which 3,000 people were killed.

He was finally acquitted of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague in March after a lengthy trial.

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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

 

Spokesman Katinan said Gbagbo would bring “a very important message of reconciliation that the people are expecting, whose aim is to reforge as far as possible the broken bonds”.

Incumbent President Alassane Ouattara, who defeated Gbagbo in 2010 and has been reelected twice, decided after his predecessor’s acquittal to grant him the status of a former head of state.

While Gbagbo’s camp hopes for a “mass welcome” with thousands of supporters, it has spent weeks negotiating details with a government keen to avoid unrest.

AFP

Exiled Ivory Coast Ex-Leader Gbagbo To Return June 17 – Party

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo gestures as he enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019, where judges were expected to issue rulings on requests by Gbagbo and ex-government minister Charles Ble Goude to have their prosecutions thrown out for lack of evidence.  Peter Dejong / ANP / AFP

 

Former president Laurent Gbagbo will return to Ivory Coast on June 17 after a decade following his acquittal of crimes against humanity during a civil war, a party official said Monday. 

In April, the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague confirmed that Gbagbo and his former right-hand man Charles Ble Goude were in the clear over the devastating post-electoral violence that rocked the West African nation in 2010-11.

“I am announcing the return of president Laurent Gbagbo on Ivorian soil on June 17,” said Assoa Adou, general secretary of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party Gbagbo founded.

The announcement was made on Gbagbo’s 76th birthday.

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More than 3,000 people were killed in months of fighting after the 2010 election when Gbagbo disputed the results of the vote won by current President Alassane Ouattara and refused to stand down.

Gbagbo was eventually forced out of power. He was arrested in April 2011 and was held in northern Ivory Coast before being transferred to the ICC.

He became the first head of state to stand trial at the court, though both he and Ble Goude always insisted they were not guilty of crimes against humanity.

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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

 

Despite spending years behind bars in the Dutch city, as well as time in Brussels as he awaited the outcome of an appeal against his acquittal in 2019, the deeply divisive ex-president retains strong support at home.

Ouattara has said that his predecessor was welcome to return home and would “enjoy … the advantages and allowances available to former presidents”.

Gbagbo’s supporters have hailed the ICC’s decision to uphold his acquittal along with that of Ble Goude, saying their return would heal the wounds of a conflict that split the country along north-south lines.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is divided between the Muslim-majority north and the Christian-dominated south.

Ouattara is a Muslim northerner while Gbagbo is a Christian from the south.

AFP

Ivorian Police Arrest 12 People After Attack On Military Base

Ivory Coast Map

 

 

A dozen people have been arrested after a military base near Ivory Coast’s economic capital of Abidjan was attacked last week, state radio said on Monday.

“The 12 suspected attackers were arrested following an inquiry” led by the gendarmerie, a police force under the orders of the defence ministry, Ivorian Radio Television (RTI) said on its website.

Armed men attacked the base of N’dotre, north of Abidjan, on the night of April 21.

A soldier was wounded while three assailants were killed and a fourth injured.

A passport and driving licence issued by neighbouring Liberia were found on two of the dead, according to the authorities.

Liberia on Friday strongly condemned the attack and vowed to prevent any incursions from its territory.

Security experts have long warned that the jihadist campaign in the Sahel, which sprang up in northern Mali in 2012 before advancing into Niger and Burkina Faso, could spread into countries on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.

On March 29, suspected Islamists killed three members of the security forces on the northern border with jihadist-torn Burkina Faso.

Three “terrorists” were killed and four were arrested in the two attacks, the army said.

On April 12, a gendarmerie vehicle travelling in the same area was hit by an  improvised explosive device, but without suffering any casualties, in the first known IED attack on Ivorian soil.

In June 2020, 14 soldiers were killed in a nighttime attack on the Burkinabe border that was attributed to jihadists.

In 2016, 19 people were killed, including Westerners, when jihadists attacked the tourist resort of Grand-Bassam near Abidjan.

-AFP

Gbagbo, Ble Goude ‘Free To Return,’ Says President Ouattara

L-R File Photo of Ex-president Laurent Gbagbo,President Alassane Ouattara and Charles Ble Goude

 

Ex-president Laurent Gbagbo and his former right-hand man Charles Ble Goude are “free to return to Ivory Coast when they want” after they were definitively acquitted of crimes against humanity, President Alassane Ouattara said Wednesday.

“Arrangements will be made so that Laurent Gbagbo can enjoy, in accordance with the laws in place, the advantages and allowances available to former presidents,” Ouattara said at the start of a cabinet meeting in Abidjan.

He spoke a week after the International Criminal Court (ICC) upheld Gbagbo’s acquittal, with appeals judges confirming that he was finally in the clear over a wave of post-electoral violence in 2010-11.

Gbagbo was the first head of state to stand trial at the tribunal in The Hague.

More than 3,000 people were killed in the brief civil war which followed Ivory Coast’s 2010 president election, when Gbagbo disputed the results of the vote won by Ouattara.

Last Wednesday’s ruling ended the decade-long legal saga over the unrest.

Supporters of 75-year-old Gbagbo say it will heal the country’s wounds and pave the way for his triumphant return to the West African country.

Despite spending years behind bars in The Hague, as well as time in Brussels as he awaited the outcome of an appeal against his acquittal in 2019, Gbagbo has retained strong support at home.

He has been positioning himself for a potential comeback since last year, casting himself as a conciliatory figure.

Ble Goude, a former youth militia leader, also saw his acquittal upheld last week.

-AFP

Ten Years Later, Women Recount Horrors Of Côte d’Ivoire Massacres

Amade Oueremi (C top), a former warlord accused of mass killings in western Ivory Coast in 2011, awaits for his trial to start at the high court in Abidjan on April 1, 2021. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)

 

 

Odette Klahon took the witness stand, her burgundy red wrap a sign of mourning, then recounted the violence a decade ago that left her without her husband, her grandson and her left hand.

“In the Carrefour neighbourhood, they didn’t waste any time, breaking down doors, looking for able-bodied men,” the woman in her 60s said Thursday with the help of a translator, describing where she lived in the city of Duekoue in western Ivory Coast.

“It was during those troubles that my husband was arrested and executed in front of me.”

She went on to describe how her “executioner” overcame her resistance to taking her four-year-old grandson, knocking the boy unconscious with a piece of wood and shooting Klahon’s hand.

“My grandson died on the spot and I was able to flee to find safety with the town’s Catholic mission, my hand in blood and crossing bodies,” she said, adding that her hand was later amputated.

Klahon’s testimony came in the trial of former militia chief Amade Oueremi, in the dock over massacres carried out in Duekoue in 2011 in the wake of the country’s disputed presidential election.

Duekoue was the scene of the region’s worst massacres during a post-election crisis in 2010-2011.

Known as “The Lord”, the 57-year-old’s trial began on March 24 in an Abidjan court on accusations of mass murder. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Oueremi was head of a militia that fought against rival groups and forces loyal to ex-president Laurent Gbagbo and says they were acting in self-defence.

The accusations particularly involve violence on March 28, 2011 in Duekoue’s Carrefour neighbourhood, where 817 people were killed in one day, according to the Red Cross. The United Nations has put the toll at 300.

Gbagbo was eventually forced out of office after refusing to accept his defeat by the current president, Alassane Ouattara. The months-long conflict claimed some 3,000 lives and split the country along north-south lines.

The former president was tried at the International Criminal Court but acquitted — a decision upheld on March 31, paving the way for Gbagbo to return to his home country.

Meanwhile, Oueremi awaits his fate in Abidjan.

 

Amade Oueremi (R), a former warlord accused of mass killings in western Ivory Coast in 2011, arrives under police escort at the high court for his trial in Abidjan on April 1, 2021. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)

 

‘Gunfire everywhere’

Another witness in his trial, Myriam Koulade, spoke of the horror she faced.

“We heard gunfire everywhere,” she said.

“We were among 40 people in our house to take shelter from the shooting.”

The next morning, on March 29, 2011, “they began to enter the houses looking for men and making threats: ‘We’re going to kill your husbands and leave with you. You will be our wives.'”

She said the neighbourhood was locked down by armed men wearing charms, with businesses being looted and homes being burned.

While going to seek refuge at the Catholic mission, her 54-year-old husband Bakoue Leon was killed “before my eyes” along with her nephew, she said.

The two women were among nine testifying, describing bodies strewn throughout the neighbourhood and accusing Oueremi’s men, who they said were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, machetes and sickles, their faces painted black.

Western Ivory Coast, a major cocoa-producing area, was one of the flashpoints of the post-electoral crisis in 2010-2011.

According to the UN and other international organisations, the March 2011 takeover of Duekoue by pro-Ouattara forces was accompanied by large-scale massacres.

The political crisis came against a backdrop of land disputes and led to communal violence between the pro-Gbagbo Gueres ethnic group and other residents, including Dyulas from the mostly pro-Ouattara north and Burkinabe immigrants.

With a protective mask over his mouth, a worn t-shirt, black pants and sandals, Oueremie expressed surprise at being alone in the dock.

“I can’t pay for others alone. I was an element of the FRCI (rebel forces that took the city),” he said.

“We were fighting Liberians and pro-Gbagbo militias who were sowing terror in the area. They killed us and we also killed them in their homes.”