Pro-Gbagbo fugitive Ble Goude vows to be 'unarmed' opponent

16th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The firebrand youth leader of ousted president Laurent Gbago in Ivory Coast, Charles Ble Goude, promised to be an "unarmed opponent" of the new regime, in a video shown in Paris Saturday.

Ble Goude is facing an international arrest warrant for his role in the Gbagbo era and is currently in hiding.

A video from Ble Goude, the rebel-rousing head of the youth movement held responsible for violence in Abidjan and elsewhere against Gbagbo foes, was shown at a meeting of the pro-Gbagbo diaspora in Paris.

"I will be a very civilised opponent, an opponent who proposes, who criticises. I will not be an opponent who takes up arms," he said in the video dated July 9, according to the event's organisers.

Gbagbo's refusal to acknowledge defeat to Alassane Ouattara in last November's election led to a stand-off of nearly five months and finally ended with Gbagbo's arrest in April after weeks of armed conflict, primarily in Abidjan.

Ble Goude also rallied his youth followers to attack troops from ex-colonial ruler France and the UN peacekeeping mission as the international community recognised Ouattara as the west African country's new president.

Looking relaxed in the video, in a light blue suit and red striped tie, Ble Goude was seen sitting in a garden. He did not reveal his location and denied the "rumours" that he was in Benin or Ghana where several of Gbagbo's ex-aides have gone into exile.

While a strong critic of Ouattara, he hinted at an opening, calling on the new government to allow the opposition to exist.

"I would like to launch an appeal to Mr Ouattara's regime: when one is the head of state, one takes off the robes... of the head of a political party and avoids exploiting justice," he said denouncing the pursuit, arrests and killings of Gbagbo supporters.

"In Ivory Coast today we talk about reconciliation. Every one wants to reconcile.... I think that beyond speeches, beyond slogans, reconciliation must be shown by acts," he said.

The Gbagbo allies are being sought in connection with an investigation into theft, misuse of public funds, pillage and damage to the public economy by the former regime.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has asked judges for permission to probe alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the aftermath of the disputed presidential poll.

Ouattara, who was sworn in as president in May, has promised wide-reaching investigations into the crimes committed during the country's post-election stalemate where some 3,000 people were killed, according to UN statistics.

But rights groups have accused Ouattara of pursuing selective justice by aggressively probing crimes committed by his adversaries, while ignoring the brutal conduct of his loyalists.

Gbagbo, his wife Simone and 13 others affiliated with the former regime remain under house arrest in the north of country.

© 2011 AFP

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