The Ivorian government has arrested a militia leader who supported President Alassane Ouattara during postelection violence in 2011. Amade Oueremi is accused of participating in a massacre of Ouattara's opponents.
Under pressure to apply the law in a non-partisan fashion, Ivorian authorities on Saturday arrested militia leader Oueremi, who supported current President Ouattara during 2011 post-election violence that left some 3,000 people dead.
Oueremi is accused of participating in the massacre in the western town of Duekoue, considered by human rights group to be one of the worst atrocities of the conflict. Human Rights Watch has said that Oueremi was one of the "main perpetrators" of the massacre, in which hundreds of Ouattara opponents were executed.
Denis Badouon, vice mayor of Deukoue, confirmed that Oueremi had been arrested in a village near Mount Peko National Park. The militia leader has been based in the forests there for a decade, defying state authority in a region rich with cocoa, Ivory Coast's main export.
Ending victor's justice
President Alassane Ouattara has been seeking to stabilize Ivory Coast and reconcile with supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo. After losing the November 2010 presidential election to Ouattara, Gbagbo refused to step down, sparking four months of violence.
Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 by forces supporting Ouattara. The former president is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity. More than 100 of Gbagbo's supporters were arrested after the conflict.
Although Ouattara supporters had also been accused of rights violations, few if any had been arrested. Oueremi was the most public example of that alleged impunity, traveling in conspicuous motorcades and illegal occupying protected land.
"Will Ivorian justice and the ICC finally balance their actions?" said Rinaldo Depagne, Ivory Coast researcher for the International Crisis Group, reacting to the arrest.
"This is proof that, if they want, the state has the ability to make its authority respected, and they should do it more."
slk/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters)