I Coast's Ble Goude says ready to face ICC

2012-06-27 12:42
Former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo. (AFP)

Former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo. (AFP)

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Close to the Benin-Togo border - Charles Ble Goude, a militant youth leader in the ousted Ivory Coast regime, is ready to face the International Criminal Court and plead his innocence, he has told AFP.

"I am ready to go to the ICC because I have nothing to blame myself for," said the man who was close to former president Laurent Gbagbo, already in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity over deadly post-election unrest.

The Ivorian crisis started with Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat in November 2010 elections, sparking violence that killed 3 000 people.

Gbagbo was arrested on 11 April 2011 in Abidjan, by forces loyal to his election rival, and now president, Alassane Ouattara.

In exile since April 2011 and subject to an international arrest warrant issued by Abidjan, Ble Goude was speaking on Monday in his first meeting with a journalist since leaving Ivory Coast, close to the Togo-Benin border.

"I am not an advocate of weapons, I never maintained a single militia. If the ICC wants to invite me for having organised protest marches, I have no problem appearing before the ICC," he said.

"I am ready to go before the ICC so that we may finally know in Ivory Coast who did what."

The ICC is not known to have issued an arrest warrant but the leader of the "young patriots", often described by rights groups as a key player in the violence, has been cited among those who could be targeted by the court.

Ble Goude also told AFP he was "ready to face justice" but accused Ouattara of imposing "victor's justice".

Once dubbed the "street minister" for his ability to mobilise, Ble Goude has proposed a meeting with the president of the country's reconciliation commission, former prime minister Charles Konan Banny.

"I propose that we meet, Banny and I, in South Africa to discuss the Ivory Coast", he said, saying that that country had become "an example of reconciliation" after apartheid.

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