Leading article: Mr Ouattara's troubles are still not over

Share
Related Topics

At best, the dramatic arrest of Laurent Gbagbo, after weeks holed up at the presidential palace in Abidjan, marks the transfer of power that should have happened peacefully five months ago. Mr Gbagbo's refusal to concede an election declared to have been won by his rival, Alassane Ouattara, led to a protracted stand-off, which degenerated into increasingly vicious fighting. The recent intervention of French troops, at the request of UN peace-keepers, spelt the beginning of the end.

So far, so good. A final shoot-out, it appears, was avoided. Mr Gbagbo was taken to the headquarters of his rival and said to be in good health. The intention of the Ouattara camp is that he should stand trial. And this is where the next stage of complications begin. If Mr Gbagbo is to be tried in Ivory Coast, it is crucial that the charges derive from genuine crimes, not a desire for political revenge, and that any trial is conducted in full compliance with international norms. Mr Ouattara and his supporters must resist the temptation to impose victor's justice.

Observing the formalities, however, may be simpler than the task facing Mr Ouattara as president. For while he won a clear electoral victory – by 54 per cent to 46 per cent, as confirmed by the relevant commission and the UN – it was not so decisive as to overcome the country's deep political and economic fault-lines. What has happened since will only have exacerbated those divisions, with violence and atrocities reported on either side. Add the damage to an already ailing economy from the months of conflict, and Mr Ouattara may find it hard to impose his authority, let alone foster the essential spirit of reconciliation.

The precise details of Mr Gbagbo's capture will also play a part. The French yesterday denied that he had been seized by their special forces, insisting that it was troops loyal to Mr Ouattara who had received his surrender. If this turns out to be untrue – or if it is widely disbelieved – Mr Ouattara risks being seen less as the legitimate winner of an election than as the creature of the former colonial power. That would make the start to his presidency even less auspicious than it already seems.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
One 200ml bottle of codeine linctus contains three times the equivalent level of morphine you'd get in casualty if you broke your wrist  

The ‘war on drugs’ consistently ignores its greatest enemy: over-the-counter painkillers

Janet Street-Porter
The author contemplating what could have been  

I was a timid, kind, gentle-natured child, later to be spurned and humiliated – in short, the perfect terrorist-in-waiting

Howard Jacobson
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable