Ecowas condemns Ivory Coast massacre
Lagos - The West African bloc Ecowas on Tuesday condemned a massacre last week in western Ivory Coast blamed on followers of Alassane Ouattara, while reiterating calls for Laurent Gbagbo to step down.
The 15-nation bloc "wishes to express its horror at the reported massacre on 29th March 2011 of civilians in and around the town of Duekoue in the western region of Cote d'Ivoire", it said in a statement.
"The [Ecowas] commission firmly condemns this heinous act and wishes to state that it will actively support any action to bring the perpetrators to justice at the appropriate time."
It said it welcomed a pledge by Ouattara, the country's internationally recognised president, to investigate the incident, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.
The bloc - the Economic Community of West African States - has repeatedly called on Gbagbo to step down and recognised Ouattara as the winner of November's disputed elections. It has also suspended Ivory Coast from the bloc.
Ecowas reiterated on Tuesday that Gbagbo should step down to "ensure the early termination of the tragedy that has befallen the country".
"The commission, therefore, urges Mr Gbagbo once again to consider the greater interest of the Ivorian nation, as well as the unacceptably high levels of human suffering, death and destruction, and cede power immediately," it said.
The bloc said it was committed to helping ensure "a safe and dignified exit for Mr Gbagbo".