|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by President of Côte d’Ivoire
President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire today sought to assure the international community that his topmost priority was not to punish or seek revenge against his opponents, but to strengthen State institutions, restore the rule of law, protect the human rights of all Ivorians without distinction, fight against impunity and ensure national reconciliation.
Addressing a Headquarters press conference, President Ouattara said his next priority was the reconstruction of his country, a nation reeling from the effects of a decade-long civil conflict that had left the world’s leading cocoa producer in economic ruins. To accomplish that goal, however, Côte d’Ivoire would need not only the support of Ivorians themselves, but the “massive support” of the wider international community, including the United Nations and donors.
Underscoring the importance of that support, he said he would be proceeding to Washington, D.C., from New York on Friday to meet with President Barack Obama and seek United States support. He would make a similar appeal for support from the Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), the heads of which he was scheduled to meet in the United States capital. “Our main task after reconciliation is reconstruction because the country has been destroyed,” he said, pointing out that Côte d’Ivoire had attracted no investment in the past 10 years and had seen an average growth rate of only 2 per cent. The economy was expected to shrink by 7 per cent this year, he added.
President Ouattara, who thanked the United Nations for having helped to stop the killing of civilians in his country following disputed elections last November, declared that those problems were now “behind us”, saying the country had embarked on a new beginning and security had returned to normal. Citizens were now able to go about their normal activities. He committed himself to holding free and fair parliamentary elections, hopefully in late November or early December, emphasizing, however, that the matter of elections was out of his hands.
That was the prerogative of the Independent Electoral Commission, he continued, saying he wished to see the rule of law prevail, protecting all Ivorians without distinction. Additionally, it was extremely important that human rights were respected. “We do not want discrimination,” he stressed. “We believe in diversity and we don’t want to accept with impunity in Côte d’Ivoire.” It was in that light that he had established the National Commission of Inquiry last week, charging it with the task of investigating all allegations pertaining to crimes committed throughout the country during the 2010 post-election period.
Responding to questions, President Ouattara repeatedly emphasized that investigations into wrongdoing would be completely transparent, saying that was the only way that the Commission’s findings would be credible and its findings accepted, not only by the Ivorian victims and citizenry at large, but also by the international community.
In response to other questions, he gave repeated assurances of his commitment to democracy, human rights and justice for all, saying it was his intention to ensure the prosecution of his followers, as well as his opponents, if they were found to have committed crimes during the conflict. He also reaffirmed his intention to seek reconciliation with supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo. The latter, now under arrest in northern Côte d’Ivoire with his wife, was being treated with the dignity befitting their status, he said. That would continue to be the case, even if the Commission of Inquiry found the former leader guilty of the charges against him because, in the end, that was in the interest of all Ivorians, the President said. “We want the rule of law. Justice will be for everyone, with no distinctions,” he asserted, adding, however, that some criminal charges against Mr. Gbagbo would probably be handled by the International Criminal Court.
Asked about the detention of Hermann Aboa, a television journalist with national public broadcaster RTI, on a slew of charges including incitement to hatred and endangering State security, the President reiterated that all Ivorians detained in connection with post-election activities were still under investigation and would be treated in accordance with the rule of law and respect for their rights. President Ouattara reaffirmed his personal belief in freedom of the press and of journalists.
Sworn in as President in May this year, President Ouattara served as Prime Minister from 1990 to 1993, and held high-level positions at the Central Bank of West African States and at the IMF, where he was Deputy Managing Director from 1994 to 1999.
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