(Photo: Reuters / Luc Gnago)
Residents flee with their belongings after clashes between forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara in Abobo, in Abidjan February 27, 2011. Gun battles and explosions raged overnight in an Abidjan neighbourhood, residents said, where mysterious insurgents the local press are calling the "invisible commandos" have risen up against incumbent Gbagbo.
The International Criminal Court has ordered the arrest of Simone Gbagbo, the wife of the former president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, for allegedly committing war crimes during the chaotic presidential campaign of 2010-2011.
She is the first woman ever charged by the ICC.
Specifically, the ICC accused her of committing "crimes against humanity of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution.”
Her husband Laurent – the first former head of state ever forced to appear before the ICC -- is already facing similar charges in The Hague.
During the disputed 2010 election in the West African nation, an estimated 3,000 people were killed – that poll sparked a violent crisis in which both candidates, the incumbent Laurent and the opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, claimed victory.
The UN and most western nations declared Ouattara the legitimate winner.
During the unrest, forces loyal to Gbagbo targeted and killed thousands of Ouatarra supporters.
Ultimately, by April 2011, through the intervention of UN and French forces, as well as soldiers loyal to Ouattara, Gbagbo was forcibly ousted and placed under arrest by local authorities.
The new ICC arrest notice further stated that “Ms. Gbagbo was ideologically and professionally very close to her husband… Although unelected, she behaved as the alter ego of her husband, exercising power and taking state decisions” and that she “exercised joint control over the crimes by having the power to control and give instructions directly to the youth militia who were systematically recruited, armed, trained.”
Ivory Coast authorities had already charged the Gbagbos with a laundry list of financial crimes, including embezzlement.
The New York Times reported that Simone has been under house arrest in Odienné, a small town in the northern part of Ivory Coast.
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