Burkina Faso to Sue Ivory Coast for Crimes Against Its Citizens

January 25, 2003 - 0:0
OUAGADOUGOU -- Burkina Faso will file suits in international courts for crimes committed against its citizens during the four-month war in neighboring Ivory Coast, President Blaise Compaore said Friday.

"Our responsibility is to seek recourse through all international bodies which treat such questions," Compaore said before leaving for Paris to attend an African heads of state summit on Ivory Coast. "Burkina Faso will do everything so that the files in our possession are placed before courts designated to handle these issues."

"Burkina did not invent the conventions or international laws which state that when men kill others who are from different ethnic or religious groups on a large scale, they are liable to be judged by international courts," he said as quoted by AFP.

Burkina Faso says its citizens, who make up the largest immigrant group in Ivory Coast, were persecuted, robbed and killed after a military uprising in Ivory Coast in September, which Abidjan has said was masterminded by Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso has repeatedly denied the accusation saying the rebellion in Ivory Coast, which has dragged on for four months and riven the country in two, was sparked by internal problems.

Compaore had earlier sparked a furore in Ivory Coast by claiming in an interview in the French press that his Ivorian counterpart Laurent Gbagbo would go the way of former Yugloslav president Slobodan Milosevic, and be judged for war crimes.

He also had said that the only solution to the Ivorian crisis was for Gbagbo to step down as he had come to power through flawed elections in which a leading candidate was barred on the contentious ground that he hailed from Burkina Faso.

Compaore's comments came just after the protagonists to the Ivory Coast conflict reached an agreement early Friday at peace talks near Paris to end the war.

Under the accord struck between three rebel groups, the Ivorian government and political opposition, Gbagbo will remain in office until the next elections in 2005 but rule through a government of national unity that includes his opponents and rebel groups.