Will there be impartial justice in Ivory Coast?

Regardless of whether they sympathise with the former president or not, citizens worry if only one side is prosecuted, there will be more violence.

The last time I was in Ivory Coast was April 2011.

Some 14 months later, on the surface things seem normal – checkpoints are manned by police or the army (not rowdy thugs carrying machetes), people who had fled have returned and you don’t hear the sound of guns anymore.

That smell of decomposing human flesh is gone.

Abidjan is a beautiful bustling city, you wouldn’t believe there was a civil war not so long ago.

President Alassane Ouattara is in charge and Laurent Gbagbo is detained at the international criminal court at the Hague.

That seems to be a worry for some of the locals. Regardless of whether they sympathise with the Ivory Coast’s former president or not – they worry if only one side is prosecuted there will be more violence.

Ouattara’s forces have been accused of committing atrocities too, but so far no one has been arrested.

Some of Gbagbo’s supporters feel justice is one-sided.

So will the new international criminal court prosecutor Fantou Bensouda address these concerns?

She says she will be tough and go after everyone who has a case to answer but it won’t be easy. It’s unlikely Ouattara will hand over high-profile individuals who helped put him in power.

But at the same time he can’t be seen to be doing nothing. There could be more violence if people feel their president is on a purging mission.

What he has to do is buy time – one way is to focus on the economy. If he can turn it around fast and create jobs across the country it might keep the masses happy and quiet for now.

Why would someone complain when their belly is full, right?

He can then focus on impartial justice later – if that is really on his agenda.

We wait to see if he is indeed serious about prosecuting all those responsible for crimes during last year’s civil war.

More importantly how does Madam Bensouda plan to drag the guilty in Africa and all over the world to the Hague?

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