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Ivory Coast Government Can’t Confirm Ble Goude’s Arrest

Ivory Coast’s government retracted earlier statements and said it couldn’t confirm the arrest of Charles Ble Goude, leader of a youth militia and an ally of former President Laurent Gbagbo.

“We did not have all the information on the case of Ble Goude,” Patrick Achi, a spokesman for the government of Alassane Ouattara, said by phone today. “It is not known where he is now. We cannot confirm his arrest.”

Ble Goude served as Gbagbo’s youth minister and ran militia recruitment drives on behalf of the former president, who was apprehended on April 11 by fighters loyal to Ouattara. Gbagbo had refused to hand power to Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of a disputed Nov. 28 presidential election. The government earlier said Ble Goude was under house arrests in an e-mailed response to questions.

The United Nations placed Ble Goude under sanctions in 2006 for advocating violence against the organization. In the past four months, Ble Goude has made statements “that have appeared to lead directly to lethal attacks against many real and perceived Ouattara supporters,” Corinne Dufka, West Africa analyst for Human Rights Watch, said by phone today.

Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Defense called for the disbanding of militias and asked citizens to hand in weapons to the country’s security forces “without fear or risk of reprisals” in a statement e-mailed today.

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