Ivory Coast frees Gbagbo-era officials

Aug. 7, 2013 at 10:44 AM
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- A decision by authorities in Ivory Coast to free officials close to former President Laurent Gbagbo helps with reconciliation, a U.N. official said.

Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes following the presidential election in 2010. He was captured with the help of French peacekeepers in 2011 though human rights groups suspect supporters of President Alassane Ouattara committed their share of atrocities as well.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast, known by its French initials UNOCI, praised a decision to free 14 officials from the Gbagbo administration.

"This development will bring about peace between all Ivorian political actors," U.N. special envoy to the country Aichatou Mindaoudou said in a statement Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch in July said the Ouattara administration should work to "to end the dangerous legacy of impunity."

UNOCI was set up in 2004 to facilitate peace in a country divided by civil war in 2002. Elections in 2010 were meant to unite the country.

Gbagbo's son, Michel, was among those released from custody.

Wednesday marks Independence Day in Ivory Coast. It gained independence from France on Aug. 7, 1960.

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