Abidjan prison reopens after jail break

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Ivory Coast reopened Abidjan’s main prison and promised to improve notoriously poor conditions there, almost five months after insurgents freed its more than 5,000 inmates.

Ivory Coast is emerging from a vicious civil war, triggered when former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down despite losing an election to current President Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo was finally ousted by force in April.

As the violence reached a crescendo at the end of March, pro-Ouattara fighters broke open the prison and freed the inmates, who fled into Banco National Park rainforest, Reuters reports.

Originally built for 1,300 people, the Arrest and Correction House (MACA) was known for abusing and starving prisoners.
“From today, the MACA is open,” Justice Minister Jeannot Ahoussou said at a reopening ceremony. “This time, we will do all we can to avoid the problem of overcrowding that plagued it before.”

That goal ought to be easy to meet for the time being: the facility now houses just 16 prisoners.