Ouattara’s lawyers want Gbagbo to face trial

PARIS (Reuters) – Lawyers for Ivory Coast’s presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara asked United Nations and French forces Sunday to eliminate incumbent Laurent Gbagbo’s heavy weapons and militia and bring him to justice.

In a letter addressed to French authorities and the international community, the lawyers said military intervention was needed in Ivory Coast in the face of an urgent humanitarian crisis.

“We call the impartial forces of UNOCI (UN mission in Ivory Coast), with support from Licorne (French forces), without delay to eliminate the heavy weapons, neutralize the militias in the pay of Gbagbo, and bring the defeated candidate to justice,” the letter said.

Gbagbo refused to step down after an election in November that the United Nations said Ouattara won. The election was supposed to draw a line under the 2002-03 civil war, but Gbagbo’s refusal to quit has led to renewed civil strife in the world’s biggest cocoa producing nation.

A spokeswoman for the lawyers said their action has the backing of Ouattara and the French presidency and will be set in motion in the coming days.

(Reporting by Brian Love, writing by Bate Felix; editing by Tim Pearce)

Ouattara’s lawyers want Gbagbo to face trial