Ivory Coast names Catholic bishop to head reconciliation efforts




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ABIDJAN – Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara appointed a Catholic archbishop on Tuesday to head the West African nation’s flagging post- reconciliation efforts ahead of elections later this year, a official with the presidency said.

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The world’s top cocoa grower is emerging from a decade-long political crisis ended in a brief 2011 civil followed a presidential election in late 2010.

The government created a Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CDVR) in the wake of the violence.
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While the economy has seen a renaissance under Ouattara’s stewardship, however, Ivory Coast remains crippled by deep political and ethnic divisions threaten to undermine long-term stability.

Paul Siméon Ahouana, the Franciscan archbishop of the country’s second city Bouake, will head a body to take over from the CDVR.

“This commission has for objective to finish the work of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission and proceed to the compensation of victims,” Amadou Gon Coulibaly, secretary-general at the presidency, told journalists.

Ahouana named archbishop of Bouake while the city under the occupation of rebel forces, which seized control of northern Ivory Coast following a failed attempt to oust then President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002.

He known for having opened dialogue with the rebels at a when they were shunned by much of the clergy.

Gbagbo, whose refusal to accept his election defeat to Ouattara sparked the 2011 conflict, is now in The Hague charged with crimes against humanity.

Rights groups accuse Ouattara of pursuing a policy of one-sided justice has stymied reconciliation since taking office, prosecuting Gbagbo’s supporters while ignoring crimes committed by his own supporters.

The CDVR faced criticism for its extravagant spending and a lack of tangible . The body’s head, former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, is expected to be among Ouattara’s challengers in a presidential election in October. (REUTERS)