Oct 10 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council’s Ivory Coast sanctions committee is expected to discuss on Friday a report from its Group of Experts that monitors compliance with U.N. sanctions on the West African country.
The group’s confidential report, seen in full by Reuters, said exiles supporting former President Laurent Gbagbo have organized themselves in a military structure and established a base in neighboring Ghana, from which they are working to destabilize the current Ivorian government.
The report’s findings appear to add credence to allegations from the Ivorian authorities that military and civilian officials from Gbagbo’s government, many of whom fled across the border at the end of last year’s war, are continuing the fight against President Alassane Ouattara’s government from Ghana.
Gbagbo’s refusal to accept defeat in a 2010 election won by Ouattara led to a brief war last year that killed more than 3,000 people. He is now awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court on crimes against humanity charges for his alleged role in the violence.
The interim report also says Gbagbo supporters were looking to operate from Mali and had been in contact with Islamists who hijacked a revolt in the north after Malian soldiers toppled the president and left a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to seize two-thirds of the country.
Following are key excerpts and information from the report.
- “They (pro-Gbagbo Ivorian exiles) have established a strategic command in Ghana.”
- “The territory of eastern Liberia has been identified as a recruitment platform and rear base, with several (camps) for military training, for the military groups. During its investigations on arms and related materiel, the Group also gathered sufficient information in order to identify the structure that recruited mercenaries and combatants for operations conducted in Cote d‘Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and consequently transmitted this to the Panel of Experts on Liberia and UNOCI (U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast).”
- “On 12 July, 2012, a meeting took place in Takoradi (Ghana) where various exiled groups supporting Gbagbo united their efforts and defined a course of action with a view of returning to power in Cote d‘Ivoire, including the development of a political and military strategy to identify possible bases of operations in neighboring countries such as Mali.”
- ”At the end of June 2012 a meeting took place in a military camp in Bamako (Mali) between representatives of the (pro-Gbagbo) organization (Lieutenant Diby, alias Sandokan, Mr. Fofana) and members of the Malian Junta (Captain Sanogo, Colonel Issouf ...)
“During the meeting, members of the Malian Junta expressed interest in supporting destabilization operations that would compromise efforts made by (West African regional group) ECOWAS and its current Chairman, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, to promote peace and stability in the region.”
- “In this context, the Group is also aware that a meeting was held between representatives of this organization (Diby/Fofana) and a representative of Ansar Dine (Islamist militant group in Mali linked to al Qaeda) ... on the border between Mauritania and Senegal in order to discuss possible future cooperation, with a view to threatening peace and stability in the region and providing possible military technical assistance through mercenaries.”
- “The Group obtained a copy of a passport issued by the Republic of Mali which allegedly belongs to Mr. Ble Goude (pro-Gbagbo leader of the Young Patriots), but under a different name. The Group is currently investigating the matter and awaits further reply to its queries from the Government of Mali.”
- An exchange of intercepted mobile phone text messages included in an annex to the report highlights the communications between Islamists in Mali and the pro-Gbagbo exiles and intentions to cooperate on operations.
A group of pro-Gbagbo Ivorian and Liberian field commanders known as “The Generals” includes Isaac Chegbo (alias “Bob Marley”), Oulai Tako Anderson (alias “Western Tarzan”), Gouhian Mompoho Julien (alias “Colombo”), Augustin Vlayee (alias “Bushdog”), Jefferson Gbarjolo (alias “Iron Jacket”), Bobby Sarpee and Moses Juru.
The report says the experts identified individuals who led a June 2012 operation in which seven UNOCI peacekeepers from Niger were killed. One of them was Stephen Gloto (alias “Rambo”).
Regarding smuggling of cashews and cocoa by pro-Gbagbo elements into Ghana: “The Group cannot rule out the prospect that a portion of those revenues was used for the purchase of arms.” (Compiled by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Xavier Briand)