[JURIST] Deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Fatou Bensouda [official profile] on Thursday urged those in the Ivory Coast [JURIST news archive] to refrain from further violence [statement, PDF] after unrest following presidential elections. In the first presidential elections in a decade, presidential challenger Alassane Ouattara was named the victor [Reuters report], but incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile] has called the results fraudulent, and the results have now been invalidated by the Constitutional Council. In 2003, the Ivory Coast accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC for crimes committed on its territory. Accordingly, Bensouda stated:
I encourage the political leaders to call on their supporters and fellow citizens to show restraint and avoid unrest. I invite the Ivorian authorities to investigate criminal incidents that have already occurred and to do everything possible to deter future ones. All reported acts of violence will be closely scrutinized by the Office.
There have been reports of violence in parts of the west and north, and the country has closed its borders and suspended foreign media.
In February, Gbagbo dissolved [JURIST report] the country’s parliament and electoral commission based on allegations of voter fraud in the long delayed presidential elections. On disbanding the government, Gbagbo charged Prime Minister Guillaume Soro [BBC profile] with creation of new government and new election format. Gbagbo had accused Beugre Mambe, the head of the independent electoral commission, of fraud by attempting to register more than 400,000 whom Gbagbo considers to be foreigners. Opposition parties such as the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI) [party website, in French] and Republican Gathering Party (RDR) [party website, in French] said that most of those voters are ethnic groups in the north of the country, who would likely have voted against Gbagbo. Gbagbo was elected president in 2000 to serve a five-year term, but he has managed to stay in office through delaying six successive elections.