Laurent Gbagbo: Ivory Coast ponder on their ex president’s return
Koudou Laurent Gbagbo was the the President of Côte d’Ivoire from 2000 until his arrest in April 2011.
A historian, Gbagbo was imprisoned in the early 1970s and again in the early 1990s, and he lived in exile in France during much of the 1980s as a result of his union activism.
In the 2010 presidential election, Alassane Ouattara defeated Gbagbo, and was recognized as the winner by election observers, the international community, the African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States. However, Gbagbo refused to step down, despite mounting international pressure.
Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo is not likely to return during political tensions, say several of his close associates.
That despite Gbagbo’s party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), announcing on Monday he would return on June 17.
Gbagbo is a highly controversial figure in Ivory Coast, where he was forced out a decade ago after a civil war that claimed several thousand lives.
He faced charges by the ICC for crimes against humanity during that conflict. Scores died in election-related violence after Gbagbo’s refused to concede defeat.
He was acquitted in 2019 and in March a failed appeal permitted his return. Speculation of when he returns has been building for months and his supporters say they want to welcome him in triumph.
Laurent Gbagbo: Ivory Coast ponder on ex president’s return
But the government is in favour of a lower profile, wary of potential unrest
The Communications Minister said the date of June 17, announced by the party, had not been previously agreed by the government.
“The date was to be discussed consensually” between the government and Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), said Communications Minister Amadou Coulibaly , adding: “It was not.”
Coulibaly, who is also government spokesman, said that in order to set a date “consensually… arrangements must be implemented,” notably for Gbagbo’s “safety”.
Gbagbo’s return will be the start of a “new phase”, FPI secretary-general Assoa Adou said on Monday — “an important phase for the future of Ivory Coast, the phase of reconciliation, peace, the reconstruction of our country”.