UNITED NATIONS — All Ivorians will be held responsible for post-electoral violence that killed thousands of people, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said Wednesday.
Ouattara told reporters that his country has launched a national investigation into the killings committed by all sides, and that all people found to have participated in the crimes will be prosecuted, with "no exceptions" – including his own loyalists.
Ouattara said Ivory Coast's court system has deteriorated in recent years and that any crimes against humanity would need to be handled by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The court's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is seeking the panel's approval to investigate the post-electoral violence that killed an estimated 3,000 people.
Ouattara said he is unfamiliar with a specific case that occurred on the banks of the Cavallay River in western Ivory Coast on May 22, the day after his inauguration.
The Associated Press reported this week that Ouattara loyalists massacred as many as 47 people in the area known as a stronghold of political opponent Laurent Gbagbo.
"Once we get the report we will be able to say what happened," Ouattara said, referring to his country's national inquiry.
Also on Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council extended the peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast for another year to help the country overcome the recent crisis. The mission will remain in the country until July 31, 2012 at its current strength of nearly 9,800 troops, including 2,000 troops added during violence earlier this year.
Ouattara met earlier Wednesday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and was to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday.
Ouattara and Ban discussed issues that included the strengthening of state institutions, restoration of rule of law, protection of human rights, the fight against impunity and national reconciliation, according to a summary of the meeting provided by the U.N. chief's office.
The Ivorian leader told reporters he is moving to shore up the country's democratic institutions and hopes to hold legislative elections before the end of the year.
Earlier this week, Ouattara named a new head of the constitutional council, replacing a man who provided key support for the power grab by former president Gbagbo.
Gbagbo refused to cede power after November elections, but was finally ousted after a French helicopter bombardment on his compound in April.