ABIDJAN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s main opposition party said on Sunday one of its supporters had died after a rally the day before was attacked by stone-throwing youths it said were linked to the government.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission condemned the violence at a rally held on Saturday by the opposition FPI party, which was in power until last year. There was no immediate reaction from the government or the police.
The incident highlights tensions in the world’s biggest cocoa grower, whose contested 2010 election led to months of violence before the FPI’s Laurent Gbagbo was removed from power, leaving President Alassane Ouattara in charge.
“The (rally‘s) organisation committee has confirmed that one person has died from his injuries. There were also lots of injured,” said Laurent Akoun, secretary general of the FPI.
Sylvain Miaka Ouretto, interim president of the FPI, accused Ouattara’s RDR party of being behind the attack. “It was sanctioned by those in power. They like violence and they are afraid of us expressing ourselves.”
The FPI, which ran Ivory Coast for over a decade and whose supporters were accused of rights abuses during the post-election conflict, largely crumbled after Gbagbo was arrested in April and boycotted the parliamentary election late last year.
Several previous FPI meetings have been disrupted by youth suspected of being close to the RDR.
The U.N. mission, whose forces helped pro-Ouattara fighters oust Gbagbo after he refused to cede power having lost the 2010 election, called on the government to find out who was responsible for the violence.
Ouattara has been praised for putting the West African state back on the road to recovery but the conflict, which killed more than 3,000 people, has left deep scars in the country, which was divided for much of the last decade. (Reporting by Loucoumae Coulibaly; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Janet Lawrence)