"That, for now, is a secret, because he is a sensitive prisoner," Mr. Soro was quoted as saying. "But what I can say is that Mr. Gbagbo is doing well and will be the object of judicial prosecution."
Ivory Coast’s prime minister said the country’s captured strongman is “well” but would not say where he is, in an interview published on Wednesday in a French newspaper.
Guillaume Soro told French daily Le Parisien that President Alassane Ouattara is working to restore order after strongman Laurent Gbagbo was arrested on Monday and taken to Mr. Ouattara’s Abidjan headquarters at the Golf Hotel. The U.N. said on Tuesday he had been moved but would not say where to.
“That, for now, is a secret, because he is a sensitive prisoner,” Mr. Soro was quoted as saying. “But what I can say is that Mr. Gbagbo is doing well and will be the object of judicial prosecution.”
He wouldn’t say whether Mr. Gbagbo would face prosecution from an Ivorian court or from the International Criminal Court, which said it wanted to investigate alleged atrocities by Mr. Gbagbo’s forces.
Mr. Gbagbo refused to cede power after losing a November election, leading to a four—month standoff that plunged the West African nation into chaos and killed untold numbers of people. More than one million civilians fled their homes amid the fighting, which also disrupted the economy of the cocoa—producing powerhouse.
“This will be a lesson for all the other dictators who want to hold and retain power beyond reasonable limits,” Mr. Soro said.
Mr. Soro, who formerly served as Mr. Gbagbo’s prime minister but resigned in protest after the November election and joined Mr. Ouattara’s camp, said he would accept if Mr. Ouattara renames him prime minister.
French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet also said on Wednesday that France will reduce its military force in the Ivory Coast from 1,700 to 980 troops as soon as possible. Mr. Longuet said French forces took a secondary role to Mr. Ouattara’s forces and the U.N. in capturing Mr. Gbagbo.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama called Mr. Ouattara to congratulate him on assuming the presidency. The White House said the two leaders discussed the importance of re—establishing trade and assistance in order to jump—start Ivory Coast’s private sector. They also spoke about the importance of ensuring that attacks and killings committed during the postelection standoff are investigated, regardless of who the perpetrators supported.
Mr. Obama said the U.S. would be a strong partner as Mr. Ouattara forms an inclusive government and promotes reconciliation.