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Laurent Gbagbo makes first appearance at International Criminal Court

The 30-minute session was to establish Gbagbo's identity and that he fully understood the charges against him.

Ivory Coast: New commission to probe abuses

President Alassane Ouattara announces a national commission to investigate crimes, vows to prosecute both sides.
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Ivory coast President Alassane Ouattara, right, and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, left, shake hands after the first cabinet meeting since a new government was announced two days before, at Abidjan's Presidential Palace on June 3, 2011. The government faces the tough task of reconciling a country torn apart by the violence, especially in the west, where more than a million people were killed in the post-election crisis, according to the United Nations. (Sia Kambou /AFP/Getty Images)

How is Ivory Coast going to pull itself together?

After five months of near civil war, President Alassane Ouattara has the challenge of bringing the country together and getting its democracy to function and its economy to return to being one of West Africa's most prosperous.

It's clear the country needs a full reconciliation process such as what South Africa did after apartheid. Ouattara has taken the first step by announcing his government will establish a national commission to investigate crimes committed during recent months of violence in which 3,000 people were killed.

The new body will "shed light on all the human rights violations committed during the post-electoral crisis," a government spokesperson said. Both Ouattara's forces and those loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo are accused of atrocities and Ouattara has vowed that all abuses will be punished.

Ouattara was sworn in in April after five months of conflict following the disputed presidential polls last November.

The decision to create an investigative body was made at a cabinet meeting, according to government spokesman Bruno Nabagne Kone.

Human Rights Watch charged Wednesday that Ouattara's authorities were only investigating abuses committed by Gbagbo's fighters.

The violence in Ivory Coast was triggered by the refusal of Gbagbo to accept defeat at the polls and to peacefully cede power and accept Ouattara's victory in presidential elections last November.


Swiss banks holding $1 billion in assets of Gaddafi and Co.

Switzerland has been trying to combat the reputation of being a haven for stolen assets of autocrats.

Ivory Coast: Gbagbo's residence bombed (Video)

UN and French helicopter gunships launched bombing attacks on the heavy weaponry protecting strongman Laurent Gbagbo's bunker.

Ivory Coast: French forces save Japanese envoy amid fighting in Abidjan (UPDATES) (VIDEO)

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that the conflict and its subsequent displacement of close to one million people could destabilize all of West Africa.

Abidjan: Gbagbo bunker repels attack (VIDEO)

ABIDJAN — Heavy gunfire heard as guards around Laurent Gbagbo's bunker fend off attack by Alassane Ouattara's forces.

UN, France target Ivory Coast's Gbagbo (UPDATES) (VIDEO)

The UN and French strikes represent a significant escalation of international involvement and a rare instance in which the United Nations has used force against a conventional army.

Civil war looms in Ivory Coast

Rival armed forces are being created and 500,000 flee their homes.
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A soldier in the Ivory Coast Army brandishes his gun in front of thousands of young supporters of Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo. The young men gathered to enroll in the Ivorian army, on March 21, 2011 in Abidjan. Fervent backers of Gbagbo streamed to enlist in his armed forces as the United Nations faced pressure to do more to protect civilians in post-election bloodshed in which more than 400 people have been killed. Gbagbo, who refuses to cede power after disputed November polls, is seeking to boost his army and quash efforts by fighters backing internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara to seize the economic capital Abidjdan. (Sia Kambou /AFP/Getty Images)

Ivory Coast is moving closer to a return to civil war as men are joining rival armed forces in Abidjan.

Thousands of young men gathered at an army base in Abidjan to sign up to fight for Laurent Gbagbo, the president who lost the November election but refuses to give up power, according to the BBC.

At the same time other young men say they are forming a new army in support of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the election, who claims to be Ivory Coast's rightful president. Ouattara's supporters say they are forming a new army made up of former rebels and army dissenters.

The enlistments of men into two rival armed forces brings Ivory Coast to the verge of civil war. Ivory Coast was in civil war from 2002 until 2005, when a peace accord was signed. The November election was supposed to have marked the country's return to a stable democracy. But by refusing to accept defeat, Gbagbo is dividing the country.

Already there have been a number of armed clashes between the Gbagbo and Ouattara sides, in which an estimated 435 people have been killed. Last week at least 30 people were killed in a mortar attack on a market in Abobo, a pro-Ouattara suburb of Abidjan.

"It is quite difficult to avoid the conclusion that this may be an internaitonal crime, possibly a crime against humanity," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva, of the rocket attack. The U.N. has been urged to investigate the incident by the French and British governments. Gbagbo's government denies ordering the violence.

The country is dividing between the North, generally in support of Oattara, and the South, largely loyal to Gbagbo. Ouattara's force claims to have chased Gbagbo's army out of several towns.

More than 500,000 people have fled their homes, fearing a return to civil war. Nearly 100,000 of those people have gone to neighboring Liberia, according to the United Nations.


Ivory Coast lurches toward civil war

400 killed in violent clashes, thousands flee country.
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United Nations soldiers patrol on the main road to Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan on March 12, 2011. Forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo launched an offensive against supporters of Alassane Ouattara in the Abobo district north of Abidjan. (Issouf Sanogo /AFP/Getty Images)
Increasing violence prompts fears that Ivory Coast will return to the civil war that split the country in 2002.
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