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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
08 February 2006

COTE D IVOIRE: Profiles of three Ivorians facing UN sanctions

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

ABIDJAN, 8 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - The United Nations has placed individual sanctions on political figures in Cote d’Ivoire whom it views as blocking efforts to end the country’s three year-old civil war. The three Ivorians who from 7 February face an international travel ban and assets freeze, are as follows:

CHARLES BLE GOUDE:

The 7 February 2006 UN Sanctions Committee statement, says he was listed for sanctions for "public statements advocating violence against United Nations installations and personnel...direction of and participation in acts of violence by street militias, including beatings, rapes and extra-judicial killings... [and an] obstacle...to the peace process."

Charles Ble Goude, who is 34 this year, is one of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo's most fervent supporters. He has been nicknamed 'The General' for his ability to bring thousands of youngsters onto the streets within hours.

"I am not a military man, I manage the streets," the charismatic leader of the Young Patriots movement once said. It was his group that called protesters out onto streets of the government-held south of Cote d'Ivoire last month to demand the departure of UN and French peacekeepers.

The Young Patriots, a group which was set up in 2001 and whose full name is the Congres Panafricain des Jeunes Patriotes (COJEP), draws heavily on students and disenfranchised youth from the Bete ethnic group. From its start it has cast the more than three-year conflict in Cote d'Ivoire as a war of independence from former colonial power France.

Ble Goude contends that rebels who control the northern half of the country are puppets manipulated by France, rhetoric that struck a chord with many Ivorians during the first months of the war. But popular support for the movement has waned as protests turned increasingly violent.

Riding on a wave of public anger after French planes wiped out virtually the entire Ivorian air force, in November 2004, Ble Goude brought tens of thousands of youths into the streets with a furious television speech. His demands that the French army leave the country immediately were seen by some at the time as a green light to loot French homes and businesses.

Along with calling anti-French and anti-UN rallies, Ble Goude has also encouraged attacks against newspapers and journalists close to the opposition.

Ble Goude was born in the central western town of Guiberoua and became close to President Gbagbo years ago, when Gbagbo and his wife Simone were still minor opposition figures. As a student, Ble Goude was also a friend of Guillaume Soro, now leader of the New Forces rebel movement, and rebel spokesman Sidiki Konate.

In fact, Ble Goude first rose to prominence when he succeeded Soro as leader of the powerful student movement, the Federation Estudiantine et Scolaire de Cote d'Ivoire (FESCI), known for its tough campus politics.

After Gbagbo won the 2000 presidential elections, Ble Goude obtained a scholarship to continue his English language studies at the University of Manchester but returned to Cote d'Ivoire after a failed army mutiny against Gbagbo in September 2002. His fluent English and openness with international media helped him gain broad exposure.

Diplomats say the Young Patriot chief is paid by the presidency. He has a suite at the 4-star Hotel Ivoire permanently at his disposal and travels with bodyguards. Ble Goude says he will not rest until the rebel fighters controlling northern Cote d'Ivoire have put down their weapons.

EUGENE DJUE

The 7 February 2006 UN Sanctions Committee statement, says he was listed for sanctions for "repeated public statements advocating violence against United Nations installations and personnel, and against foreigners; direction of and participation in acts of violence by street militias, including beatings, rapes and extra-judicial killings; obstacle...to the peace process."

Eugene Djue, around 40 years old, like Charles Ble Goude is a leading figure in the Young Patriots youth movement. Born in central east Cote d'Ivoire, Djue's parents hail from Diabo, a small community close to the central city of Bouake which is now the rebel stronghold.

Djue first rose to prominence in 1990 when he jointly founded the Federation Estudiantine et Scolaire de Cote d'Ivoire (FESCI), the tough and highly politicised student union that subsequently propelled rebel leader Guillaume Soro and Ble Goude to prominence.

In 1993, Djue led a number of demonstrations against the ruling Democratic Party of Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI) and took a frontline position in the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) lead by Laurent Gbagbo - then a scholar and now president of Cote d'Ivoire.

In 1995, Djue went to Paris to continue postgraduate studies in political science and law and consolidated his commitment to politics by becoming the FPI's representative in Paris in 1998. He is considered to be a protégé of the president's politically active wife, Simone Gbagbo.

As Djue prepared to qualify as a lawyer, he was informed of the 19 September 2002 rebellion against President Gbagbo. The failed coup left the country split between a rebel-held north and government-controlled south.

Djue immediately left his wife and two children in Paris and returned to government-held Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire’s economic capital, where on 23 September 2002 he founded the Union of Patriots for the Total Liberation of Cote d'Ivoire (ULPTCI). Djue proclaimed himself 'Marshall' of the ULPTCI, saying that that rank surpassed even General.

The title made a distinction between Djue - known for his loud shirts in the Ivorian national colours of white, orange and green - and Charles Ble Goude who had already proclaimed himself 'General' of the youth movement.

Djue claims to lead a militia of 40,000 recruits who say they are ready to fight alongside the military against rebel forces. Several hundred of these recruits in Daloa, in the west of the country, and in the port city of San Pedro, are reportedly armed.

Djue has attacked rebel-held territory but his incursions have never involved more than a few hundred men. His best-known attempt to capture Bouake was a late 2003 attack in the buffer zone between the government-controlled south and rebel-held north, where Djue and his militias were quickly stopped by French peacekeepers.

But for the most part, Djue's supporters can be found on the streets taking part in the anti-UN and anti-French demonstrations that intermittently flare up in the main city Abidjan.

Since returning to Cote d'Ivoire in 2002, Djue has not sought a visa for France where his wife and children still live. He considers that his inability to travel to rebel-held Bouake, home of his ancestors, is the greatest cross he has to bear.

MARTIN KOUAKOU FOFIE

The 7 February 2006 UN Sanctions Committee statement says he was listed for sanctions because, "Forces under his command engaged in recruitment of child soldiers, abductions, imposition of forced labour, sexual abuse of women, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings, contrary to human rights conventions and to international humanitarian law; obstacle... to the peace process as defined by resolution 1633."

Martin Kouakou Fofie, 38 this year, is a former soldier who is now rebel commander of the northern city of Korhogo, close to the border with Mali. He is known for his trademark beard and authoritarian style of leadership. Fofie is considered to be one of the pillars of the rebel movement because of his unflinching loyalty to rebel leader Guillaume Soro, his junior by several years. He also has a reputation among the New Forces for being ruthless.

UN officials hold Fofie at least partly responsible for one of the worst human rights violations recorded during the three-year-old conflict. In June 2004, a struggle over leadership of the rebel movement between Soro and archrival Ibrahima Coulibaly, led to clashes among rebel factions. Fofie's men quashed the insurgency in Korhogo and arrested scores of dissident fighters.

Days later, French peacekeepers reported nearly 100 dead bodies in the town morgue. Several more bodies were found around Korhogo, most of them executed - their hands still tied behind their backs, a single bullet lodged in their heads. In July, a team of UN human rights investigators discovered a mass grave near Korhogo filled with at least 99 corpses. Investigations concluded that more than 60 of the men had died from suffocation after being held in sealed goods' containers for days on end without food or water.

Fofie is based in camp CTK, for Compagnie Territoriale de Korhogo. The section under his command is commonly known as Fansara 110 - the name of the Abidjan prison cell in which Fofie was held and tortured after participating in a 2001 coup attempt against President Laurent Gbagbo. As a soldier, Fofie also took part in Cote d'Ivoire's first-ever coup, a 1999 plot that ended the regime of then president Henri Konan Bedie.

To read the Security Council Statement, click here



[ENDS]

This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but May not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006



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