US Worried about arrests

The United States is “very concerned” about the arrest of opposition party leaders in Cote d’Ivoire, State Department Spokesman James Rubin said on Friday.

The arrests “appear to be aimed at stifling the opposition”, Rubin said. “We call on the Ivoirian government to release immediately the 10 leaders of the Republican Rally party (RDR) who were arrested on Wednesday, October 27,” he added. “We urge all political parties and their leaders in Cote d’Ivoire to express, and to be allowed to express, their views through non-violent means in an inclusive process.”

Secretary-General Henriette Diabate and 19 other RDR leaders and militants were arrested on 27 October under an anti-vandalism law after a protest the party had organised was marred by violence. The detainees are scheduled to appear in court for the second time on 4 November.

On Tuesday, a judge in the central town of Dimbokro invalidated the certificate of citizenship of former World Bank official Alassane Dramane Ouattara, thus reducing his chances of running for president in elections to be held late next year.

Rubin said that “if the electoral process is opaque, unfair and/or exclusive, it could provoke civil unrest, with consequences for the country’s political stability, foreign assistance, trade and investment.”