Abidjan – Ivory Coast’s internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara called on his forces to maintain discipline and ordered a blockade of his rival Laurent Gbagbo’s residence, in a televised address yesterday.
“A blockade has been set up around (the) perimeter” of Gbagbo’s residence to make the district safe for local residents, said Ouattara.
Gbagbo had holed up there “with heavy weapons and mercenaries”, he added.
On allegations that both sides had been guilty of atrocities during the recent intense fighting, he promised there would be no cover-up.
“Light will be shed on all the massacres and the crimes,” which might have been committed, he said.
“The authors of the crimes will be punished,” he said, calling on his troops “to be exemplary in their behaviour and to abstain from any crime, any violence against the population or any act of pillage”.
“All those involved in such acts will be punished,” he promised.
Ouattara also called on his forces to restore order in the main city of Abidjan, where roaming militia have been engaged in looting and random attacks in recent days.
He had told the leaders of his security forces to “take every measure to ensure maintaining order and the protection of property”, he said.
And he appealed for reconciliation and unity from the population.
“I call on all my compatriots to refrain from any act of vengeance,” he said.
“Ivory Coast is one and indivisible,” he said, promising to be the president “of all Ivorians”.
“Let us all get down to work,” he said in a call for national unity.
The order to his troops not to commit atrocities came after UN officials and aid agencies reported massacres in the west of the country, which some observers have blamed on his forces.
The decision to seal off Gbagbo’s private residence, where he is holed up with his wife Simone and a few other supporters, came after Ouattara’s soldiers tried and failed on Wednesday to storm his home, which is guarded by 200 men.