Following Côte d’Ivoire’s November 2010 presidential elections, former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept electoral defeat and cede power. During November 2010–April 2011 security forces and militias loyal to Gbagbo attacked civilians perceived to be supporters of the newly-elected President Alassane Ouattara on the basis of their ethnic affiliation. An estimated 3,000 people were killed in the post-electoral violence before Gbagbo was forcibly removed from office on 12 April 2011.
While most atrocities were committed by pro-Gbagbo government forces, Ouattara supporters also committed massacres of perceived ethnic and political enemies. A national Commission of Inquiry documented mass atrocity crimes committed by more than 545 Ouattara supporters and 1,009 Gbagbo supporters during the crisis.
Most individuals who perpetrated mass atrocity crimes have not yet been held accountable. Following an arrest warrant, on 30 November 2011 Gbagbo was handed over to the International Criminal Court, where he was tried and acquitted alongside his Minister of Youth, Charles Ble Goude.
Côte d’Ivoire has a history of civil war during which atrocities were committed by all sides. During April 2004 the UN Security Council (UNSC) established a UN peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), initially mandated to facilitate the implementation of a January 2003 peace agreement. Recognizing the risks to populations posed by the post-election crisis, on 30 March 2011 the UNSC expanded UNOCI’s protection mandate in keeping with the responsibility to protect.
Although the country underwent a reconciliation process and was deemed stable enough for UNOCI to end its mandate in June 2017, the underlying ethnic and political tensions that exacerbated the outbreak of electoral violence in 2010-2011 remain. Tensions over land and resources continue to provoke sporadic outbreaks of violence between rival ethnic and political groups. Impunity for past crimes threatens the long-term stability of the country, particularly as it approaches new presidential elections during 2020.
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