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Ivory Coast president asks ICC to launch probe into crimes after disputed election

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to launch an investigation into alleged crimes committed as a result of the disputed presidential elections last November, according to a letter [text, PDF, in French] dated May 3 and published to the ICC website Wednesday. The letter asks ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official website] to bring an impartial investigation [AFP report] into the most serious crimes since the November 28 election. Ocampo has said that his office will launch a formal investigation into the mass killings. Ouattara was sworn into office [WSJ report] earlier in May after months of conflict between his forces and those loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] who refused to leave office. Ouattara's forces, with the help of French military, finally captured Gbagbo in April after besieging his residence.

In April, a Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] report urged Ouattara to conduct an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged atrocities carried out by his forces in its attempts to secure the presidency. According to the report, the pro-Ouattara forces, known as the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast, killed more than 100 civilians, raped at least 20 supporters of Gbagbo and burned at least 10 villages in March. Also last month, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] reported the deaths of at least 800 civilians [JURIST report] in the Ivory Coast town of Duekoue as a result of intercommunal violence. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] had urged all parties in the Ivory Coast to show restraint and called for an independent investigation into post-election violence [JURIST reports]. In January, UN officials expressed "grave concerns" [JURIST report] regarding the post-election violence, cautioning that genocide could be imminent.

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