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Gbagbo is moved to secret location

Ivory Coast’s president puts a priority on order

By Marco Chown Oved
Associated Press / April 14, 2011

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Ivory Coast’s president tried to establish order in the days after the country’s strongman was arrested, moving him to a secure location and assuring the public that looting and gunfire will cease and life will soon return to normal.

President Alassane Ouattara said Laurent Gbagbo had been moved out of the Golf Hotel, where he was taken after his capture on Monday. He said Gbagbo will be kept in a villa and that his rights as a former head of state will be respected. A UN official said that its peacekeeping forces are providing personal security protection for Gbagbo.

“Gbagbo is in a residence under surveillance somewhere in Ivory Coast,’’ Ouattara told reporters at the Golf Hotel.

The justice minister is preparing for possible prosecution of Gbagbo, he said, but gave no details.

“There will be charges [against Gbagbo] on a national level and an international level,’’ he said. “Reconciliation cannot happen without justice.’’

The Hague-based International Criminal Court had no immediate comment on Ouattara’s statement.

Ouattara also repeated his call against violence and asked fighters to put down their arms so that the country’s biggest city, which has been on lockdown while battles raged over the last two weeks, could return to normal.

“We need to secure the country, notably Abidjan,’’ he said. “It is important for the country to emerge from this crisis on top.’’

The scars of fighting were still evident as civilians ventured out from their houses for the first time and cars began to tentatively circulate, many with white cloths tied to their radio antenna so that they would not be mistaken for combatants.

Ouattara said he will settle into the presidential palace in the coming days, but that a swearing-in ceremony is not a priority and will take place later.

He said his priority is to provide security, establish law and order, and get the country working. Many Ivorians went without food and water as fighting roiled the nation last week, and gasoline is scarce.

UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said yesterday that the United Nations provided transportation for Gbagbo and continues to provide personal security protection for him while he is in custody at Ouattara’s request.

Speaking to reporters before a Security Council meeting about the West African country, Le Roy said fighting continued in Ivory Coast yesterday, along with “quite a bit of looting.’’

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