“Do not kill me!”: These are the first words from the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo when soldiers came looking for him Monday at his home in Abidjan, and humiliating epilogue to end a decade of tumultuous reign.
Gbagbo was entrenched there for a week before the FRCI offensive, backed by France and U.N. air strikes.
“Some fighters have been injured, they stepped on mines that were installed in the courtyard”.
“The first sentence that Gbagbo said when the soldiers came in was “Do not kill me”.
“They made him wear a bulletproof vest and then commanderVetcho , commander Wattao, Cherif Ousmane, Morou Ouattara formed a blockade to protect it because some of the elements wanted to kill him on the spot.
“We put him in a commandant Wattao’s 4×4, rear, and he was led directly to the Golf Hotel, headquarters of the camp Ouattara in the same district of Cocody, said the witness.
“We did go quietly into the hotel. It was protected by soldiers from the FRCI and gendarmes from the UN,” said another witness.
“I saw (his wife) Simone arrive in the lobby, she wore a long robe. The FRCI tried to protect her from the crowd who tried to hit her. Despite that, some apparently managed to give her a few strokes, and to pull her hair. You could hear people insulting her.
The former strongman of Abidjan and his wife were placed in a hotel room, and their relatives in other parts of the hotel, he said. “There are UN soldiers and FRCI to secure this entire crowd.”
Last humiliation: one of the men to help Gbagbo remove his shirt, his son gives him a white towel with which he wipes his face and underarms. Then they help him to put on another shirt.
Despite everything the Gbagbos have done over the year, their dignity and their physical integrity should be respected by the new Ivorian authorities. After all, he had been President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire for five years, plus the extra 5 years he got there. Although I understand the need for Ouattara to show video evidence of Laurent and Simone Gbagbo held prisoners but safe at the Hotel du Golf, Ouattara has to respect their rights.
On a different note, the new administration also has to be careful not turning them into martyrs or figures of resistance against the international community intervention in African affairs. Recalling Congolese memories of Lumumba caught with the help of western powers and handed over to Tshombe’s men is not the image Ouattara would want to give right now.
Hopefully, Laurent Gbagbo and his followers will soon be judged and will face national or international justice.
However, this does not mean that the crisis is over, since the violence has not stopped in Abidjan.
Abidjan was Tuesday the scene of looting and gunshots were heard in some neighborhoods. Insecurity is persistent after ten days of war, following the arrest of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, residents said.
While Republican Forces (FRCI), loyal to the new head of state Alassane Ouattara admitted being overwhelmed, the looting last week
was concentrated in the southern zone – now more secure, thanks to the presence of UN and French Licorne force.
In the district of Cocody-2 Trays (north), the houses around the elegant Rue des Jardins have been targeted by looters since Monday night, some witnesses said.
“At one o’clock in the morning, gunmen arrived aboard several 4×4, smashed the front gate of a house, entered and emerged moments later with television, electrical appliances, and even the 4×4 vehicle that was parked, “said one resident.