Ivory Coast launches post-conflict quest for truth

Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:37am GMT

By Ange Aboa

YAMOUSSOUKRO (Reuters) - Ivory Coast has launched a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission on Wednesday to try to heal the wounds of a post-election conflict that killed more than 3,000 people and drove a million from their homes.

The 11-man commission, which includes English Premier-league soccer star Didier Drogba representing the Ivorian diaspora, was inaugurated by President Alassane Ouattara at a ceremony in the political capital Yamoussoukro.

Drogba, whose Chelsea FC club was playing the European Champions League on Wednesday, did not attend the ceremony.

"We will have to tackle difficult questions such as the land issue in rural areas and identity questions," Ouattara said at the ceremony.

The reconciliation process is seen vital to restoring a lasting peace to the West African nation.

Charles Konan Banny, Ivory Coast's former prime minister who heads the commission, said the country was seeking peace and reconciliation in the process.

"The commission does not have amnesty powers, nor powers to absolve anyone or seek vengeance," Banny said.

Those who are not pardoned may be tried. A group of world statesmen founded by Nelson Mandela said punishment must be handed down fairly to those guilty of crimes on both sides.   Continued...

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara appears on the French TF1 television prime time evening news show prior to an interview, September 13, 2011 in Paris.   REUTERS/Fred Dufour/Pool
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