Laurent Gbagbo

Incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by French troops that stormed the presidential compound today.

The arrest, however, does not address what analysts say is a key legal dispute: whether declared presidential election winner Alessane Ouattara legally is eligible to be president of Cote D’Ivoire.

Ouattara, a Muslim supported by Muslim regions of the nation, claimed victory after the November election. But Gbagbo, a Christian supported by Christian regions of the nation, alleged vote fraud, and the country’s resolution process declared him the winner of the election.

The United Nations and U.S., not satisfied with the internal process, declared Ouattara the winner and demanded Gbagbo step aside, which he refused to do.

The decision provoked unrest, including including a massacre a week ago in the village of Duekoue that claimed an estimated 800 to 1,000 lives.

A former CIA station shief who has asked not to be identified told WND the West needs to zero in on the real issue behind the civil war, but the requirements of the nation’s own rules should not be ignored.

He says the real issue is that Ouattara is ineligible to be Ivory Coast’s president.

“First of all, Ouattara’s parents were from Burkina Faso, so he is technically ineligible to be a president anyway. The law in Cote D’Ivoire requires that both parents be Ivorian,” the station chief explained.

The former CIA officer noted Gbagbo was also involved in pre-election chicanery.

“Of course Gbagbo played dirty, too. This is Africa where all of this is standard pperating procedure,” the former operative further explained.

“The Constitution Council, which is made up mostly southern Christians or animists, nullified the entire voting results of the northern, mostly Muslim and Outtara supporting, region. There are seven districts where Outtara’s supporters were strongest, but they only won the elections by 51 percent,” he said.

“A completely free and fair re-election would probably have Outtara winning
legitimately,” the former CIA man added.

But he said there are other issues.

“Ouattara is ineligible due to his parents’ birthplaces, but that legal
change was engineered by Gbagbo’s predecessor who is also from the south,” the station chief added.

He said that Africa is a difficult place for any legal system, because sometimes there’s no “right or wrong.”

“It’s mostly tribal and religious conflict. The dirty tricks are carried out by whomever is in power and can get away with it,” he said.. And he said the outside influence hasn’t helped.

“Of course the U.S., U.N. and much of Africa are going to support a Muslim
pretender,” he said.

The Washington Post reported April 1 that Ivory Coast’s legal system clouds the issue.

Gbagbo’s predecessor, Henri Konan Bedie, got his parliament in 1995 to pass a law prohibiting Ivorians with foreign-born parents from becoming president. Ouattara provided evidence of his parents’ Ivory Coast birth in 1999, but the government ruled the documents were forgeries, making Ouattara ineligible.

The report also says that Gbagbo allegedly cleared Ouattara in 2007 to run for president but withdrew his approval after the election.

There is still press speculation over which army is responsible for the massacre in the western town of Doukoue. The British newspaper The Guardian reports that speculation is leaning towards forces loyal to Ouattara.

No one has taken responsibility for the killings, and there are no suspects, but the Pitt Report says the battle for Ivory Coast is between Christians and Muslims and places the blame firmly on Ouattara.

The former CIA station chief said soldiers loyal to Ouattara were the only armed personnel in the area.

Reaction to the killings from the international community has been strong, and two international aid agencies have expressed outrage at the level of violence.

Catholic relief organization Caritas spokesman Patrick Nicholson says a humanitarian mission from his group found the bodies.

“The staff entered the town and they found that a massacre had taken place in the city. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that 800 people had been killed,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson said that Caritas condemned the killings.

International Red Cross spokesman Steven Anderson said the ICR is outraged.

“We find this is quite exceptional. We don’t usually comment on situations like this, but this time our delegates were on the spot and they could see hundreds of dead bodies,” Anderson stated.

“We felt obliged to share our state of shock regarding the brutality of this act. It is also important to remind the arms carriers that civilians are to be respected,” he said.

Nicholson said his group wants an investigation.

“Caritas’ estimate is that between 800 and 1,000 people were killed or disappeared and we think the best next step is for an independent international inquiry, an investigation into what happened there and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice,” Nicholson urged.

Anderson says his group’s major humanitarian purpose was to help refugees and give the dead an honorable burial.

“Our step was to pick up the bodies we found in the streets and houses in order to ensure a dignified burial as much as possible,” Anderson commented. “That’s what we did in the follow up to what we witnessed last week.”

Both Nicholson and Anderson say that they’re unable to comment on which faction is responsible for the massacre.

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