AILRC-F press release of November 16, 2020 Côte d’Ivoire. Use of machetes and firearms testifies to horror of post-election violence
1-Dozens of people killed since the election of October 31
2-Hundreds of injured during clashes
3-Dozens of opposition members arrested
4-Opposition leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan detained incommunicado
Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire must investigate the killings of dozens of people killed with guns, pistols and machetes since the presidential election, Amnesty International said on November 16, 2020.
Witnesses she spoke to recounted scenes of post-election violence amid growing clashes between supporters of the opposition and the ruling party since October 31. In some cases, security forces have been overwhelmed, unable to stem violence from both sides.
“We call on the Ivorian authorities to investigate this bloody violence and bring those responsible for these acts to justice. The long-standing impunity in Côte d’Ivoire provides fertile ground for those who commit killings and violate human rights without fear of being held to account, said Samira Daoud, director for the West and Central Africa to Amnesty International.
“This is the second time in 10 years that elections in Côte d’Ivoire have been peppered with violence. Steps must be taken without delay to protect the public and make it clear that these killings will not go unpunished. “
Violence erupted in several cities across the country in the run-up to the presidential election and continued after the poll. According to the National Council for Human Rights, between October 31 and November 10, the death toll was 55 dead and 282 injured.
In addition, dozens of opposition party members have been arrested, including leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan, arrested on the night of November 6-7.
Last week, violence escalated in central Côte d’Ivoire, especially in the towns of Mbatto, Elibou and Daoukro.
In Mbatto, between 9 and 10 November, an opposition demonstration left at least two dead and dozens injured, five of whom are in critical condition, according to information received by Amnesty International. .
Witnesses said ruling party sympathizers attacked the protesters by throwing stones at them, which subsequently sparked violent clashes with machetes and pistols, while the forces security were overwhelmed.
A witness told Amnesty International:
“They started with stones, then machetes and finally we heard gunshots […] We were violently attacked […] They started setting fire, ransacking and shooting at us. The gendarmes who were in the middle to disperse the crowd with tear gas were discouraged. We found ourselves on our own. “
According to another witness, at least 24 people were injured by firearms on November 9 and 10. Five were in critical condition and could not be evacuated due to the violence. “We’ve never seen that, usually people take machetes, but this time around they all had guns,” he said.
In addition, Amnesty International noted the arrest of dozens of opposition members on the sidelines of the election, after the opposition called for civil disobedience, to boycott the poll, to create a National Transitional Council and to reject the re-election of President Alassane Ouattara.
Opposition leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan was arrested on the night of November 6 and held incommunicado until November 9. During those few days, he was unable to communicate with his family or his lawyer. Pascal Affi N’Guessan said he had not seen daylight for 60 hours. He is targeted by 30 counts, including “attack and conspiracy against state authority, assassination and acts of terrorism”. His lawyer only managed to see him when he appeared before the judge on November 9. Since then, neither his lawyer nor his family have been able to contact him. It is currently impossible to confirm the whereabouts of Pascal Affi N’Guessan. The authorities must allow him to communicate with his lawyer.
On November 3, 21 people were arbitrarily arrested at the home of opposition leader Henri Konan Bédié. Five are still in detention; they are Maurice Guikahué, number two in the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), senators Seri Bi N’Guessan and Bassy Koffi Bernard, and Narcisse N’dri Kouadio, chief of staff of Henri Konan Bédié . They are facing 16 counts, including “attack and conspiracy against state authority”. Security forces are still stationed around the homes of former minister Hubert Oulaye and Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and no one can enter or leave. Amnesty International considers this to be an arbitrary restriction on the right of free movement of all persons inside these buildings.
This wave of arrests of political opponents follows another round of arrests earlier this year. In August, Amnesty International reported a wave of arrests targeting political dissidents. Between August 13 and October 25, at least 41 people were arrested in Abidjan, Korogho, Toumodi and Alepe while demonstrating or after calling for a demonstration. These include five members of the opposition party GPS, arrested on August 13 while they were on their way to a demonstration, and Pulchérie Edith Gbalet, coordinator of the NGO Alternatives Citoyennes (ACI), arrested on August 15 August at the hotel where she had stayed with two colleagues after calling on the population to demonstrate against a third mandate of Alassane Ouattara.
“The growing crackdown on opposition leaders and government critics is an offensive against human rights. The Ivorian authorities must restore the right of free movement of people in the homes of opposition leaders by putting an end to the mission of the security forces stationed there, said Samira Daoud.
“They must immediately and unconditionally release Pascal Affi N’Guessan and all those detained solely for exercising their fundamental rights. Finally, they must commit to creating a space where citizens can freely express their opinions and demonstrate peacefully, without fear of being arrested, assaulted or killed. “