By Hannah Stewart
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Ghanian authorities have arrested Charles Ble Goude, the former leader of Young Patriots, an Ivory Coast nationalist youth movement. Ble Goude is wanted in connection the postelection violence that ensued in 2010 when Former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to current president, Alassane Ouattara. Some 3,000 people lost their lives in the four-month crisis.
Ble Goude has been in hiding since April 2011, when Gbagbo was arrested on charges of crimes against humanity. The former president, who governed Ivory Coast for a decade, is now awaiting trial at The Hague.
Most top military and political officials from Gbagbo’s regime were killed, are in jail in Ivory Coast or now living in exile. While Ghanaian police last year arrested former budget minister Justin Kone Katinan, Ivory Coast’s request for his extradition has been stuck in the courts for months. Ghana has previously stated it considers the exiles to be refugees and has yet to extradite any Gbagbo supporters. Ble Goude currently faces extradition to Ivory Coast.
Ble Goude is wanted by Ivorian authorities for alleged kidnappings, illegal detentions, torture, incitement of hatred and economic crimes while a member of Gbagbo’s inner circle. Moreover, he is currently subject to United Nations sanctions including a travel ban and asset freeze. The UN first instated sanctions against Ble Goude in 2006 when he was accused of inciting attacks against UN personnel.
Ble Goude has denied leading pro-Gbagbo militias that attacked foreigners and northerners during the 2010 upheaval. He claims that he only organized Young Patriot rallies and meetings. Likewise, Ble Goude has denied purchasing weapons or arming Ivorian youth. Ble Goude further denies holding regular rallies where he used increasingly xenophobic rhetoric until Gbagbo was forced from power.
In 2010, the Young Patriots reportedly played a decisive role in creating a climate of terror, erecting barricades and checkpoints where they attempted to identify “enemies of Ivory Coast.” Young Patriots killed countless West African nationals at these checkpoints, often by “necklacing” individuals with tires, which were then set on fire. As President Ouattara is from northern Ivory Coast and has familial ties to Burkina Faso, pro-Gbagbo groups targeted Ouattara’s supporters: anyone with a northern name, immigrants and foreigners.
Netherlands-based attorney Nick Kaufman says he has been in contact with Ghanaian officials seeking the legal grounds for the arrest and has petitioned the International Criminal Court in The Hague to indicate whether Ble Goude was the subject of a warrant from the court.
For further information, please see:
BBC – Charles Ble Goude: Ghana Extradites Ivory Coast Gbagbo Ally – 18 January 2013
Fox News – Lawyer: Authorities in Ghana Arrest Charles Ble Goude – 17 January 2013
Reuters – Fugitive Ivorian Youth Leader Ble Goude Arrested in Ghana – 17 January 2013
The Washington Post – Ghana Arrests Ble Goude – 17 January 2013