Less than two months since former president Laurent Gbagbo was captured in Abidjan, the media has grown silent on the situation in Ivory Coast. However, a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) documents ongoing killings in various neighborhoods of Abidjan. Between April and May, the Forces Républicaines de la Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) loyal to Ivory Coast’s president Alassane Ouattara have allegedly killed at least 95 unarmed residents in and around the country’s capital. Many of the brutal reprisal killings have demonstrated an ethnic character, with FRCI forces singling out young men whom they assume are pro-Gbagbo militia from the Attié, Bété, Goro, Guéré or other ethnic groups. The HRW report, which is based on over one hundred and thirty on-the-ground interviews, also indicates that Gbagbo’s forces killed at least two hundred and twenty people as the conflict drew to a close in early April.
The violence suggests that FRCI soldiers continue to conflate ethnic affiliations with support of former president Gbagbo, and they employ brutal, tit-for-tat violence to make those distinctions known to the public. Nevertheless, at his May 21 inauguration President Ouattara declared that the country would unite, “Yes, we are going to come together. Let us learn to live together again.” While he has taken one step in the right direction by requesting on May 3 that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate crimes committed on both sides during the post-election conflict, more needs to be done internally to address the reprisal killings. After all, the last two decades have seen the Ivorian government institutionalize ethnic and regional divisions, often for purely political gains.