Ivory Coast’s Ouattara promises to restore security

Ivory Coast’s Ouattara promises to restore security
# 13 April 2011 21:48 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara pledged on Wednesday to quickly restore security and prosperity to a nation broken by civil war as life in the main city slowly returned to a normality of sorts, APA reports quoting “Reuters”.
In his first news conference since his rival Laurent Gbagbo was arrested, ending a power struggle which descended into all-out war, Ouattara promised to bring to justice all those responsible for atrocities, including his own forces.
"I say to my countrymen: in a few months Ivory Coast will have come out of this crisis. Trust me," Ouattara said.
"We are still in a delicate situation. We still need to secure the country, especially Abidjan ... I will do everything I can so that all Ivorians, everywhere in the country, can live safely."
He said a new republican army would be formed and urged militias and mercenaries who took part in the fighting to lay down their weapons.
He said everything was in place to immediately resume cocoa exports -- the West African state’s main foreign revenue generator -- and that branches of the regional central bank shut for months would likely reopen next week, paving the way for private banks to do the same.
Ouattara also said that he would ask the International Criminal Court to investigate reported massacres since the power struggle began in the wake of a disputed November election, which U.N.-certified results showed he won but which Gbagbo rejected.
Gbagbo’s capture by Ouattara’s troops, aided by French forces in the former colony, drew a line under months of conflict in which thousands were killed, more than a million uprooted and the economy of the once shining star of the West African region collapsed.
In Abidjan, the commercial capital, some petrol stations reopened on Wednesday, communal taxis were running and people cautiously ventured out in the streets despite continued violence in some districts.
Running water and electricity cut off by 10 days of fierce fighting for control of the city once known as the Paris of Africa were restored to most neighborhoods, residents said.
"Life is gradually returning to normal, shops have reopened as well as pharmacies," said Mariam Kone in the southern district of Koumassi.
"At night though, there is still shooting by those who have weapons. They are not happy at all that Gbagbo’s gone."
Gbagbo’s arrest left Ouattara as the sole leader in the world’s largest cocoa grower, although analysts say he faces a huge task stopping violence and healing deep wounds.
In a boost to his legitimacy, Gbagbo’s former army chiefs pledged allegiance to Ouattara at an official ceremony on Tuesday where words like "forgiveness" and "reconciliation" were repeated frequently.
Ouattara, whose standing has been undermined by reports that his forces killed hundreds of civilians in the west of the country, said all crimes would be prosecuted.
He urged supporters to refrain from violence and reprisals and said soldiers caught looting would be dismissed from the army.
"There can be no reconciliation without justice," he said. "There will be no discrimination."
Some parts of Abidjan were still unsafe. In the pro-Gbagbo neighborhood of Yopougon, gunfire was heard on Wednesday.
"There is still a lot of sub-machinegun fire and we don’t know who is doing the shooting," said resident Stella Gogo.
"There are a few cars circulating and people are walking in the streets. Markets are open but foodstuff is very expensive."
Another resident, Justin Behan, said: "The youth militias still have weapons. We hear shooting every day, so we are too frightened to go out."
Abidjan port was still shut, as were banks and the Western Union money transfer service, with many residents reporting an acute shortage of cash to buy food.
The EU, France and the World Bank have all pledged financial aid to restore stability, rebuild the economy and repair badly damaged infrastructure. U.S. President Barack Obama called Ouattara to offer his support.
After his capture, Gbagbo was taken to the Golf Hotel where Ouattara has his headquarters. Ouattara said on Wednesday he had been moved to an undisclosed location in the country and that he would be prosecuted alongside his wife and aides.
Their safety and rights would be guaranteed, he said.