Dozos stationed along the road from Man to Duékoué in western Ivory Coast, July 2011. (Nancy Palus/Courtesy IRIN)
As Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara embarks on a long and difficult process of national reconciliation after the divisive elections of November 2010 that led to four months of violence, the role of Dozos, a multinational fraternity of game hunters that participates in some traditional West African cult practices, complicates the process, especially in the western border regions.
Villages in Ivory Coast began employing Dozos to provide security in response to rising crime rates in the early 1990s. In general, they were viewed as a stabilizing force, providing protection when and where the police could not. In return, they were paid cash, allowed to hunt on private property, and even provided land to cultivate crops.
However, as Amnesty recently reported (see my blog post earlier this week), the Dozos have been implicated in atrocities alongside forces loyal to President Ouattara in southwestern Ivory Coast, which generally supported defeated president Laurent Gbagbo in the November 2011 elections.
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