Gbagbo’s lawyers say Ouattara took 'power by force'

Gbagbo's lawyers say Ouattara took 'power by force' with France's support in disputed 2010 presidential election

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo attends a pre-trial hearing at the International Criminal Court in The Hague

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara was accused by defense lawyers of former leader Laurent Gbagbo Monday for seizing power by force with the help of French forces during the 2010 elections.

Gbagbo’s defense lawyer, Emmanuel Altit, alleged at the International Criminal Court that France was not interested in restoring peace during the five-month uprising when he refused to concede defeat to Ouattara.  

"Ouattara and his supporters wanted to seize power by force and the battle of Abidjan was, simply put, the very implementation of this strategy," defence lawyer Emmanuel Altit told the court.

Gbagbo alongside his co-accused Charles Ble Goude, a troublemaker militia head, have denied four charges of crimes against humanity arising out of the crisis after the Ivory Coast poll. 

During the 2010 presidential election, Gbagbo declared himself the winner over Ouattara, but world powers including France, the United States as well as the United Nations backed Ouattara as the winner. 

Altit said there was a deliberate plan to make Gbagbo "out to be some of kind demon" and "paint Ouattara as the good guy."  

"This is not a faithful account of what happened ... it's not particularly realistic," Altit said.   

"This is nothing more than a political narrative that has been heated up and re-served."     

He also told the judges hearing the case at the court in Hague that "perhaps someone wants us to forget" alleged abuses committed by pro-Ouattara forces.    

"The plans for military action had been drawn up by the plotters and schemers ... in cooperation with French military leaders during the entire crisis," said Altit.  

"A fleet of French military aircraft delivered heavy weapons to pro-Ouattara combatants in the north of Cote d'Ivoire in February and March 2011, once again breaking the UN embargo," he said, using Ivory Coast's French name. 

Last week, prosecutors at the court in Hague accused Gbagbo of igniting conflict to overtake power after losing a runoff to Ouattara.

Gbagbo has pleaded not guilty to four charges including murder and rape allegedly carried out by his supporters that killed 3,000 people during violence in 2010. 

TRTWorld and agencies