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Street vendors and children celebrate the impending inauguration of President Alassane Ouattara Rebecca Blackwell/AP/Press Association Images
Ivory Coast

Democratically elected president of Ivory Coast finally inaugurated

Alassane Ouattara was elected in November, but outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede power. Six months of bloody fighting ensued, leaving hundreds dead.

WORLD LEADERS ARE gathering in Ivory Coast for the long-awaited inauguration of Alassane Ouattara, who was elected last November.

He was prevented from taking office by outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept defeat and who used the army to prevent Ouattara from leaving the hotel that had served as his campaign headquarters. Ouattara was forced to take the oath of office in a ceremony last December inside the hotel lobby attended only by his closest aides.

Gbagbo was finally arrested on 11 April after French forces led an sir raid on the presidential compound where he had locked himself inside a bunker. On 12 April Ouattara heralded a “new era of hope” for the Ivory Coast, but even as he did so, pro-Gbabgo militias killed at least 68 people and spread them out in mass graves on a soccer field in Abidjan, the commerical capital of the country.

Associated Press reports that UN investigators think the killings happened on 12 April in revenge for the arrest of militiamen and Gbagbo.

Months of fierce fighting followed November’s election, claiming hundreds of lives. It’s reported that the bodies have not yet been removed from some areas in the west of the country.

Ouattara faces allegations of massacres by forces loyal to him. He enlisted the help of rebel groups based in the county’s north and these fighters are accused of carrying out horrific massacres in villages known to have supported Gbagbo.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy is among 20 heads of state who will arrive in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coasts administrative capital, to watch Ouattara’s inauguration.

- Additional reporting by AP