Ivory Coast bans skin whitening creams

Ivory Coast has banned skin whitening creams, which are widely used in west Africa, because of fears they cause lasting damage to health, the health ministry said Wednesday.

“Cosmetic lightening and hygiene creams… that de-pigment the skin… are now forbidden,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ban affects whitening creams and lotions containing mercury and its derivatives, cortisone, vitamin A or more than two percent hydroquinine, a lightening agent that is used to develop photographs.

“The number of people with side effects caused by these medicines is really high,” said Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast’s pharmaceutical authority, warning that they could cause skin cancer.

Lightening products can also lead to hypertension and diabetes, said Elidje Ekra, a dermatologist at the Treichville university hospital in Abidjan.

Whitening creams have been popular for years among young African women, who see them as a way to make themselves more attractive.

The use of the creams is believed to be even more widespread in Nigeria.

Although there are no official figures of how many women use such products across Africa, billboards advertising the potentially deadly creams can be seen in cities across the continent.

“In our cultures, some people think women with light skin are the most beautiful. This beauty standard… pushes many girls to depigment their skin,” Ekra said.

“What we see in the media is the lighter one’s skin is, the better one’s life,” he added, referring to advertisements that fill the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s biggest city, showing models with lighter-than-average skin.

While the craze is most widespread among women, some men use the creams too, Ekra said.

The creams are also extremely popular in many countries in Asia, including India, Pakistan and Japan, as well as in the Middle East.

Photo Credits : AFP

ICC joins trials of ex-I.Coast president and ally

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday decided to combine the trials of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and his close ally Charles Ble Goude because their cases alleging post-election violence are nearly identical.

The court “granted the prosecutor’s request to join the cases… in order to ensure the efficacy and expeditiousness of the proceedings,” the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat after presidential polls in late 2010 sparked a bloody five-month stand-off in the restive west African country in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.

The court said that Gbagbo and Ble Goude “have had charges confirmed against them which arise from the same allegations, namely crimes allegedly committed during the same four incidents by the same direct perpetrators who targeted the same victims.”

Gbagbo is alleged to have fomented a campaign of violence in a vain attempt to stay in power after being defeated in his bid for reelection by Ivory Coast’s current President Alassane Ouattara.

During the conflict, Ble Goude — dubbed Gbagbo’s “Street General” — whipped up support for the incumbent with fiery speeches urging mass mobilisation against what he called pro-Ouattara “rebels” and their foreign backers.

Prosecutors said Goude commanded men that murdered, raped and burned hundreds of people alive in an orgy of violence involving both sides that ended only after Gbagbo’s arrest in an assault on his Abidjan compound by Ouattara’s French- and UN-backed forces.

Ble Goude was arrested in Ghana in January 2013 and extradited to the Ivory Coast, but it wasn’t until March 2014 that he was sent to the Netherlands to face prosecution at the world’s only permanent war crimes court.

Gbagbo is being held in The Hague, where his trial is set to start in July 2015. No charges have been filed against Ouattara’s backers, raising claims of a “victor’s justice”.

A status conference will be held on April 21 and Gbagbo’s case will no longer start on July 7, the court said.

A court in Ivory Coast on Tuesday sentenced Laurent Gbagbo’s wife Simone to 20 years in prison for her role in the deadly post-election violence.

Photo Credits : AFP

Former Ivory Coast first lady Gbagbo jailed for 20 years: court

A court in Ivory Coast Tuesday sentenced former first lady Simone Gbagbo to a 20-year prison term on charges of “undermining state security” during post-election violence in 2010-2011 that left nearly 3,000 dead.

“The court, after deliberation, unanimously condemns” the 65-year-old wife of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo to 20-years in prison, court president Tahirou Dembele stated. Prosecutors had asked for a 10-year sentence.

Photo Credits : AFP

AFCON 2015: Ivory Coast Africa champions for the first time since 1992

Ivory Coast ended years of frustration to claim their second African Nations Cup crown following a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Ghana in the final.

The Elephants, whose only previous triumph in the competition came back in 1992, looked set for their third final defeat in nine years when they fell 2-0 behind in the shootout after the teams played out a drab goalless draw in Bata.

But Ghana fluffed their lines and Ivorian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry would become the hero in this year’s edition when he first saved opposite number Brimah Razak’s penalty before stepping up to score his spot-kick and seal a climactic 9-8 success.

Barry created some controversy during the shootout after going down twice with what appeared to be cramp, the second time coming just before he took his decisive kick.

Whether or not the Lokeren keeper’s actions were genuine, it added tension to an encounter that had been decidedly lacking excitement in the previous 120 minutes.

The contest was billed as a ‘dream final’ between two of the continent’s most prominent teams on the world stage — yet it proved to be uninspiring for large spells.

Fit Gyan to face Ivory Coast in final

Ghana star Asamoah Gyan has recovered from a hip injury and will face Ivory Coast later Sunday in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Bata, officials said.

The striker was injured when fouled by Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara in a 3-0 quarter-final triumph last weekend.

He was among the substitutes as Ghana overwhelmed hosts Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in a midweek semi-final, but not used.

Gyan replaces semi-final scorer Jordan Ayew in a team otherwise unchanged from that which started against Equatorial Guinea.


Ghana: Razak Braimah; Harrison Afful, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Abdul Rahman Baba; Christian Atsu, Afriyie Acquah, Mubarak Wakaso, Andre Ayew; Kwesi Appiah, Asamoah Gyan (capt)

Coach: Avram Grant (ISR)

Ivory Coast: Boubacar Barry; Eric Bailly, Serge Wilfried Kanon, Kolo Toure; Serge Aurier, Yaya Toure (capt), Serey Die, Siaka Tiene; Gervinho, Wilfried Bony, Max-Alain Gradel

Coach: Herve Renard (FRA)

Photo Credits : AFP

Premier League duo help take Ghana, Ivorians through

Premier League stars Christian Atsu and Wilfried Bony both scored twice on Sunday to help Ghana and the Ivory Coast complete the semi-final line-up at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Atsu got his brace in Ghana’s ruthless 3-0 win against Guinea before Bony netted two headers as the Ivorians won 3-1 in a heavyweight showdown with Algeria that completed a double-header at the Estadio de Malabo.

The second encounter had the potential to be one of the games of the tournament so far and it didn’t disappoint.

The Elephants were looking for revenge for their dramatic defeat to Algeria after extra time at the same stage of the 2010 tournament in Angola and, after Serge Aurier headed off the woodwork, it was they who opened the scoring.

To the gentle rhythm of the drums coming from the swaying Ivorian fans, all clad in orange, Max-Alain Gradel swung a pinpoint cross from the right towards the far post and Bony headed home his first goal of the competition.

Algeria, Africa’s top side according to the FIFA rankings, were level six minutes after the interval when Hilal Soudani netted from inside the area.

However, Bony headed home a free-kick from his new City colleague Yaya Toure to put the Ivorians back in front and Gervinho wrapped up the win at the death.

“I think we have beaten the best team in the tournament,” said Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard.

“In terms of football and ball control they were better than us but we countered them with players like Gradel and Gervinho and with the support of Bony.”

Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff replied: “It was not the best team that won. I can’t reproach the players for anything. If we played the same game 10 times we wouldn’t lose it 10 times.”

While Algeria go home, the Ivorians will now prepare for a semi-final against DR Congo in Bata on Wednesday as they continue their quest for a first Cup of Nations crown since 1992.

– Stunning strike –

Ghana’s Black Stars can look forward to a semi-final in Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo on Thursday against the host nation after destroying the Cup of Nations dream of Guinea on a typically warm and humid afternoon.

They needed just four minutes to open the scoring courtesy of Atsu, the winger who is on loan at Everton from their English rivals Chelsea.

Kwesi Appiah, who belongs to Crystal Palace but has been on loan at lower-league English side Cambridge United, then made it 2-0 just before the break after pouncing on poor defending.

But Atsu saved the best for last, with a stunning strike from wide on the right just after the hour mark that dipped under the bar and into the net at the far post.

That killed off the contest, and a miserable day for Guinea was completed when their goalkeeper Naby Yattara was sent off for bringing down Asamoah Gyan on the edge of the box in stoppage time.

“Our first goal was very good and the third goal was fantastic from Atsu. I don’t know if he meant it,” joked Ghana coach Avram Grant after the Black Stars made it through to their fifth consecutive semi-final at the Cup of Nations as they look to win the trophy for the first time since 1982.

“We are on the right way to being even better than today. Expectations of this team were not high but that doesn’t matter.”

His opposite number Michel Dussuyer was gracious in defeat, saying: “We know Ghana have players who can make the difference, and when you concede a second goal just before half-time it becomes nearly impossible.

“We didn’t play as we hoped, but let’s look to the future and think about the work we need to do to compete with the best teams in Africa.”

Organisers will be relieved that all the headlines on Sunday were made on the pitch after events of Saturday, when Tunisian players tried to attack the Mauritian referee who awarded a contentious penalty that helped Equatorial Guinea come from behind to beat the Carthage Eagles.

Photo Credits : AFP

Gradel strikes late to earn Ivory Coast draw

Substitute Max-Alain Gradel’s late equaliser earned a disjointed Ivory Coast side a 1-1 draw against Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday as the Elephants kept alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

It looked as if Bakary Sako’s superb seventh-minute strike, a contender for goal of the tournament so far, would give Mali a famous first win against their west African neighbours at the continental finals.

But Gradel, who was introduced from the bench in the first half, finished an excellent move with four minutes left to leave Group D wide open.

Both sides had already drawn 1-1 in their first matches, and must now wait to see how Cameroon do against Guinea in the second game of a double-header in Malabo on Saturday evening.

In an effort to kickstart his side’s Cup of Nations campaign, Herve Renard made three changes to his starting line-up after the draw against Guinea, with Seydou Doumbia replacing the suspended Gervinho and Ismael Diomande and Siaka Tiene also being promoted to the starting line-up.

Renard also changed his tactical line-up, opting to play three central defenders with skipper Yaya Toure in a deep-lying midfield role.

But it was a move that failed to pay off and Mali opened the scoring from the game’s first chance, much to the delight of the huge contingent of Eagles fans in the Estadio de Malabo.

When Diomande was robbed of possession in midfield, the ball came out to Sambou Yatabare on the Mali right and his hanging cross towards the back post was met sweetly on the half-volley by the unmarked Sako, whose strike gave Sylvain Gbohouo in goal no chance.

– One sniff –

Just as had happened in their opening game, the Ivorians’ opponents had scored from their first chance, and Renard’s side were again left to chase a game.

Doumbia had one sniff of goal, but couldn’t convert from close range after Wilfried Bony headed a Tiene cross down towards him.

New Manchester City signing Bony then saw his appeals for a penalty fall on deaf ears on 33 minutes after he went down in the area under a Molla Wague challenge, although Ivory Coast came desperately close to equalising from the corner that followed.

Yaya Toure swung the ball into the area and his brother Kolo’s header was instinctively turned against the bar by Mali ‘keeper Soumaila Diakite.

An unhappy Renard wasted no time in changing his approach, with Diomande being hooked off six minutes before the interval and his Saint-Etienne colleague Gradel coming on to join Doumbia and Bony up front.

Still the Ivorians were unable to really trouble the Mali defence, even after goalkeeper Diakite was stretchered off and replaced for the final 18 minutes by Germain Berthe.

The substitute had nothing to do until he had to pick the ball out of his net four minutes from the end.

Gradel slotted home low after Serge Aurier latched on to a defence-splitting Salomon Kalou pass and cut the ball back for the little winger.

Photo Credits : AFP

Former Ivory Coast First Lady goes on trial for post election violence

Cote d’Ivoire’s former first lady Simone Gbagbo went on trial yesterday for “attempting to undermine the security of the state” in events leading to a bloody 2010-2011 crisis that left thousands dead.

Gbagbo, who has been held for three years and is also wanted by an international court for crimes against humanity, entered the Abidjan court where she is standing trial with 82 others.

The 65-year-old wife of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo wore a yellow silk dress and tressed hair as she faced the judge, while outside riot police were deployed and officers body-searched people entering the law courts.

The trial is viewed as the biggest judicial challenge faced by the post-crisis government of the West African nation.

Nicknamed the “Iron Lady”, Gbagbo is being tried for her role in events leading to months of post-election violence that left some 3 000 people dead and badly rattled the economy of the prosperous cocoa-producing nation.

Violence broke out in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010 when Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara, who was declared the winner of a presidential poll.

Laurent Gbagbo himself has been held for three years in The Hague facing charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC). But Cote d’Ivoire has repeatedly refused to hand his wife over to the ICC on the same charge.

The presidential couple were arrested April 11, 2011 after five months of fierce fighting after a final push by French forces against their residence.

Simone Gbagbo had been held under house arrest in Odienne in the northwest of the country since

April 2011 but was transferred to the economic capital, Abidjan, on December 1 ahead of the trial.

Among those seated in the dock next to her, smiling for the cameras, was Gbagbo’s last prime minister Gilbert Ake N’Gbo and Affi N’Guessan, head of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party. Proceedings yesterday were expected to be limited to jury selection, with hearings beginning in earnest on January 5.

“This trial has been rushed through to obtain five million euros pledged by the EU as part of a programme to rehabilitate the Ivorian justice system,” one defence lawyer said.

Simone Gbagbo’s fate has been at the centre of intense negotiations between Cote d’Ivoire and the ICC, with Abidjan refusing her transfer to

The Hague on the grounds that it would undermine the political reconciliation process and that the country is perfectly equipped to stage a just trial.

Cote d’Ivoire recently appealed an ICC demand to hand her over on the grounds that the authorities “were not taking tangible, concrete and progressive steps aimed at ascertaining whether Simone Gbagbo is criminally responsible” for crimes against humanity. — AFP.