Ouattara Takes Responsibility for Rebels, Calls Them “Ivory Coast’s Legitimate Army”
According to Reuters, Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized President of Ivory Coast, officially recognized the New Forces rebels as the legitimate army of Ivory Coast.
The northern rebels have been fighting to defend Mr. Ouattara’s claim to the presidency. Many analysts and watchers of Ivorian politics have claimed in the past that Mr. Ouattara is the ‘father’ and financier of the rebels.
Quoted by Reuters on Thursday, March 18 as saying:
“I have just made a decree for the creation of the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast (FRCI),” … “This new army is composed of the national army and the (former rebel) New Forces.”
It is the first time that Mr. Ouattara acknowledged command over the former rebels and the Abidjan gunmen fighting to oust Mr. Gbagbo, who has refused to step down, and who retains the support of the country’s military. Mr. Gbagbo claimed electoral irregularities in the November vote, despite U.N. certification of the election.
Ouattara who had previously distanced himself from the rebels was further quoted stating the following :
“Their mission is principally to assure the security of people and their belongings…This new army will follow a new code of conduct in the service of its citizens.”
An unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters this meant the New Forces, once regarded as mere warlords, were now legally recognised by the international community as Ivory Coast’s military:
“They absolutely are the legitimate force. We have been talking to them about the responsibilities that go with that. We’re calling them the RFCI, not the rebels,” Hmmm, well which is it: “RFCI” which combines the English and French acronym? “RFIC” which would be the proper English acronym? Or as stated in the first quote by Quattara “FRCI”?
The blogosphere and Human Rights Watch have documented cases of human rights abuses, and possible war crimes on both sides, including this week’s summary execution of captured Gbagbo’s troops by of pro-Ouattara gunmen.