Focus on politics problems would help Ivory Coast recovery

May 21, 2013 at 10:13 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21 (UPI) -- Long-term recovery in Ivory Coast would be supported by focusing on the country's political problems, Human Rights Watch said.

Ivory Coast was pushed to the brink of civil war following competing claims of victory in 2010 presidential elections. Defeated candidate Laurent Gbagbo was captured with the help of French peacekeepers in 2011. He's awaiting trial for war crimes at The Hague.

Human Rights Watch called on Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara to mark the start of his third year in office with a pledge to support accountability, disarmament and security sector reform. Rights groups suspect supporters of Ouattara played a role in post-election crimes.

"The lack of impartial justice as well as the failure to address other issues that underpin a decade of abuse could undermine longer-term prospects for stability and development," Human Rights Watch West Africa researcher Matt Wells said in a statement from Nairobi.

The U.S. State Department warned last week of the potential for violence in Ivory Coast. Ivorian forces are able to secure the peace but the warning said the security situation could quickly change.

Human Rights Watch said part of Ivorian recovery hinges on a credible investigation into the political issues that led to post-election violence. Elections in 2010 were meant to unite a country divided by war.

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