Wattao once gave a French television reporter a ride in his Maserati before showing him around his luxury beach compound. But he is not the only former rebel under the spotlight.
Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said he was not aware of any ex-com'zones being involved in illegal activities. The government had given them top army jobs to make them answerable to the military hierarchy, he told Reuters in an interview. "The solution was to make them leaders. They were named commanders of units or deputy commanders of units with their men integrated into the ranks."
But critics claim the promotions have emboldened the former rebel commanders and made them virtually untouchable. UN efforts to trace their weapons since the civil war have been repeatedly stymied.
On March 25, according to a confidential letter to the UN Security Council's Ivory Coast sanctions committee seen by Reuters, inspectors finally got full access to the camp of an ex-com'zone named Martin Fofie Kouakou. Kouakou was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army earlier this year despite appearing on a UN sanctions list for alleged human rights abuses.
What the inspectors found was a 60-tonne arsenal. According to the letter, Alain-Richard Donwahi, secretary of President Ouattara's National Security Council, acknowledged that most of the weapons stockpiled at the camp were not under state control.
An inventory of the arms cache reviewed by Reuters listed hundreds of heavy machine-guns and assault rifles, dozens of multiple rocket-launchers, mortars, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and even SAM7 surface-to-air missiles.
The inspectors also found 2.8 million rounds of small arms ammunition, 113,000 heavy machine-gun rounds, 4,680 rounds of grenade launcher ammunition, 1,200 anti-tank rockets, and more than 2,000 other assorted bombs, rockets and artillery shells.
Image: A prospector searches for gold at a mine in Ivory Coast.