Ivorian President Faces Tough Rebuilding Challenges

Apr 14, 2011
Originally published on April 14, 2011 12:28 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Unidentified Group: (Foreign language spoken)

OFEIBEA QUIST: President-elect Alassane Ouattara has called on all fighters to lay down their weapons immediately to allow an increasingly lawless Abidjan to return to normal. Security and protecting civilians, says Ouattara, are his immediate focus. That's the task he's given to Ivory Coast's security chiefs.

PHILIPPE MANGOU: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST: Just days ago, the head of the army, General Philippe Mangou, was obeying orders from the defeated incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo's refusal to give up power, after losing November's election, led to the conflict that killed more than a thousand people and displaced more than a million. He was captured on Monday. On Tuesday, General Mangou pledged his allegiance to Ouattara.

MANGOU: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST: General Mangou says the words that readily come to his lips are forgiveness and reconciliation, after the bitter battle for Abidjan and a wider crisis that that has divided this once peaceful and prosperous country.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLES)

QUIST: Residents in some neighborhoods ran out of food and water, and had no electricity or security for days, and sleepless nights.

KADI BAMBA: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST: Kadi Bamba described her ordeal living not far from Cocody. That's the suburb where Gbagbo's official residence is located, which came under heavy bombardment by U.N. and French attack helicopters.

BAMBA: (Through Translator) We were as good as held hostage here for 12 days. All we heard was heavy gun and mortar fire. This road in front of us was littered with bodies, charred corpses, people who were killed because they were from the wrong tribe or had the wrong surname.

(SOUNDBITE OF MEN SINGING)

QUIST: Concerned citizen, Brahima Diarassouba, worked alongside the military pushing a message of peace.

SANOU ISSA: (Foreign language spoken)

QUIST: No more hate, no more war, he implores them. We get it, says Sanou Issa, who goes by his nom de guerre Captain Wanto.

ISSA: (Through Translator) No vengeance. We don't want vengeance. We have neighbors who are Guere or Bete, Mr. Gbagbo's ethnic group. We were born together. We are ready to disarm and forgive. No regrets.

QUIST: But across town, the very people who are meant to be disarming fighters are handing out weapons.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CONVERSATION)

QUIST: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Abidjan. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.