Tutu, Annan condemn Ivory Coast violence
Johannesburg - The Elders group of eminent global leaders, including Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan, called on warring parties in Ivory Coast to ensure accountability for the killings there.
"Former president Laurent Gbagbo must bear primary responsibility for the violence, which was sparked by his refusal to accept the election results and step down. His term is over and he must depart the political stage," The Elders said in a statement.
"Meanwhile, former president Gbagbo and President Alassane Ouattara both bear responsibility for the actions of forces under their control," they said. "They must demand an immediate end to attacks on civilians and UN personnel.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the west African country since strongman Gbagbo refused to cede power to his rival Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of the November elections.
"I urge President Ouattara to commit publicly to a process of accountability. His actions and words in the coming days are critical to the future of Cote d'Ivoire," Tutu said.
"The people need reconciliation, not retaliation," he added.
Last week, forces loyal to Ouattara stepped up their military operations in a bid to dislodge Gbagbo, leaving scores dead.
The UN reported that hundreds of people have been killed and the death toll is rising following news of mass killings in the western town of Duekoue.
"The violence must stop and the atrocities and human rights abuses must be investigated," said Annan.
"Those who have perpetrated these terrible crimes, in Duekoue and elsewhere, must be held accountable," said Annan.
Ouattara forces said on Wednesday they had gone to remove Gbagbo from a bunker at his Abidjan residence where he was holed up and refusing to surrender.