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Ivory Coast president’s allies charged over election dispute

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Justice officials in Ivory Coast have indicted about 20 members of the army that helped bring President Alassane Ouattara to power during the post-election conflict in 2011, a human rights activist said, the first time the president’s military allies have been charged for alleged crimes committed during fighting that claimed thousands of lives.

Around 20 other army members have also been summoned to give testimony, said Florent Geel, the Africa director for a group that tracks such cases, the International Federation for Human Rights.

Geel said the suspects include two commanders accused of involvement in some of the worst episodes of the violence, which occurred after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in a runoff vote in late 2010.

One of the commanders, Cherif Ousmane, led army operations in the Abidjan district of Yopougon during the final battle for control of the city. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report on the conflict said “scores of perceived Gbagbo supporters were extra-judicially executed” in Yopougon. Fighters under the other commander, Fofana Losseni, took control of the western city of Duekoue in late March 2011 and “proceeded to play a key role in the massacre of hundreds” there, HRW said.

Ouattara’s government has long been accused of engaging in “victor’s justice” because only Gbagbo’s allies have previously been charged. Gbagbo himself is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court.

Ivory Coast officials declined to confirm the charges this week. State media quoted a government spokesman saying on Wednesday that Ouattara did not want to interfere in the justice process.

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