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Drogba on Ivory Coast peace mission

Chelsea football star Didier Drogba is taking a leading role in a bid to bring peace to his native Ivory Coast, torn apart by post-election violence.

The West African nation's new government and dignitaries from the region have launched a South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The 11-member commission is headed by former prime minister Charles Konan Banny and includes the nation's favourite son, Drogba, as well as religious leaders.

At least 3,000 people were killed from December to April, when United Nations air strikes finally forced the country's entrenched ruler Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to President Alassane Ouattara.

The commission, styled after the effort in South Africa which helped repair the wounds of apartheid, is expected to hear grievances from the families of people killed by Gbagbo's military.

Human rights groups have urged the government to ensure that it will equally hear testimony about those killed by the rebel fighters Mr Ouattara enlisted to help him take power. It remains unclear how the commission will be involved in the judicial process.

South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who headed his country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of apartheid, said reconciliation and justice were intertwined and that "victor's justice" would "greatly undermine the reconciliation process".

"We encourage President Ouattara to demonstrate to his people and the world that the judicial process he has started is both fair and completely impartial," he said.

Since Gbagbo's arrest in April, dozens of his supporters have been charged with crimes, but no Ouattara supporters have faced charges. However, both sides are accused of carrying out gross human rights violations during the crisis.

"We have the impression right now that there is victor's justice," said law student Frank Kouassi, 26, who said he did not vote in the last election. "It was a war. It wasn't just one side that pulled the trigger."


From Belfast Telegraph