Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official websites] on Thursday submitted a request [text, PDF] to the court to begin an investigation into the Ivory Coast political conflict [JURIST news archive] during which thousands of people have been killed and displaced. ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song assigned [order, PDF; press release] the investigation to Pre-Trial Chamber II following Moreno-Ocampo's letter of intent. Moreno-Ocampo, who told reporters in early April that he was willing to investigate the alleged war crimes [JURIST report], indicated that he had a reasonable basis to believe crimes within the jurisdiction of the court had been committed on the Ivory Coast since November 2010. Despite the Ivory Coast not being a party to the Rome Statute [text], the ICC press release stated that the country had affirmed the jurisdiction of the court on several occasions. The formal investigation will likely focus [Reuters report] on former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile], who refused to cede power following the November 28 election, as well as current, democratically elected President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile].
In April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] Ouattara to investigate "atrocities," including murder and rape, committed by opposing political forces during the recent conflicts. Earlier in April, 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 that took place. Last month, the OHCHR called for an independent investigation into post-election violence [JURIST report]. The violence stemmed from Gbagbo's refusal to cede power to Ouattara, who won the November 2010 runoff election according to international observers. Gbagbo was elected president in 2000 to serve a five-year term, but he has maintained his office, delaying six successive elections.