The US President, Barack Obama, has publicly hailed the capture of former Cote d’Ivoire leader, Laurent Gbagbo in a statement released from the White House on Monday 11th April 2011.
After fierce fighting in Abidjan, forces loyal to the UN-recognised Ivoirian President-elect, Alassaine Ouattara, captured Laurent Gbagbo and his wife. The pair are currently being held at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, according to the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire.
The operation carried out by Ouattara’s forces was characterised by heavy cover from the French Licorne forces and UN peacekeepers, who took out heavy artillery protecting Gbagbo – ostensibly to protect civilians in the immediate vicinity.
President Obama released a statement from the White House saying:
The United States welcomes the decisive turn of events in Cote d’Ivoire, as former President Laurent Gbagbo’s illegitimate claim to power has finally come to an end. This represents a victory for the democratic will of the Ivoirian people, who have suffered for far too long through the instability that followed their election. Today, the people of Cote d’Ivoire have the chance to begin to reclaim their country, solidify their democracy, and rebuild a vibrant economy that taps the extraordinary potential of the Ivoirian people.
In the four months that have passed since Alassane Ouattara was elected President, the United States and international community have strongly supported the results of Cote d’Ivoire’s democratic election, and the right of the Ivoirian people to determine their own destiny. These results came after several years of support by the international community for Cote d’Ivoire’s peace and democratic processes. The United Nations Security Council, members of the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have all worked to advance the goal of a democratic Cote d’Ivoire in which the rule of the people is stronger than the rule of one man. The United States commends the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire and French forces for the actions that they have taken to protect civilians.
For President Ouattara and the people of Cote d’Ivoire, the hard work of reconciliation and rebuilding must begin now. President Ouattara will need to govern on behalf of all the people of Cote d’Ivoire, including those who did not vote for him. All militia groups should lay down their weapons and recognize an inclusive military that protects all citizens under the authority of President Ouattara. The victims and survivors of violence deserve accountability for the violence and crimes that have been committed against them. The international community must continue to support the people of Cote d’Ivoire as they turn the page to a more hopeful and democratic future. In that effort, a democratic Cote d’Ivoire that respects the rights of its people will always have a friend in the United States of America.
The President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke with President Ouattara to offer the full support of his county’s forces in facilitating reconstruction and security in the immediate aftermath of the fighting. Alassaine Ouattara has been the officially recognised President of Cote d’Ivoire for a period of months following disputed elections with support from the African Union, United Nations and regional neighbours. His legislative programme will now be further complicated by the thousands of refugees who fled the fighting and the allegations of human rights abuses which include massacres.