Ivory Coast’s ex-leader Gbagbo vows return to political life

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Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo told supporters on Sunday that he would remain involved in politics until the day of his death, detailing his ambitions publicly for the first time since being acquitted of war crimes charges.

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The 76-year-old former president addressed a weekend gathering for the new political party he launched: the African People’s Party of Ivory Coast, also known by its French acronym PPA-CI.

Gbagbo returned home to the Ivory Coast in June after more than a decade abroad, appealing for the acquittals of prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in connection with the West African nation’s post-election crisis over the past two years in 2010–2011 was waiting.

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Since his arrival, Gbagbo has made public appearances but has limited his comments about politics, making Sunday’s comments the most direct on his future plans.

“I’m out of jail,” he told about 1,600 supporters. “I’m here and we’ll be back on track together.”

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“I will be in politics till my death,” he said. “It is me and I will decide how it will be done.”

Ggbo led the Ivory Coast from 2000 to 2010, then refused to give up on rival Alassane Ouattara. Fighting between his supporters brought the Ivory Coast back to the brink of civil war, in which at least 3,000 people died.

Outara eventually triumphs after Gabbo is arrested from his underground bunker and extradited to The Hague. Ouattara has been president ever since he courted controversy last October, when he previously won a third term by saying he would serve only two terms.

The two men have been cordial since Gabbo’s return, appearing together at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in July in an effort to bolster national unity. However, Ggbo was disqualified from running against Ouattara in the 2020 election, and it is unclear to what extent the ruling party would be willing to consider Ggbo as a future candidate in 2025, when he Will be 80 years old.

However, Ggbo’s critics say that he should never have welcomed the politician upon his return. They say that even if he is acquitted at the International Criminal Court, he must be held accountable for his role in inciting violence in Ivory Coast.

The establishment of Gabbo’s new political party marks the final break in ties with the Ivorian Popular Front party, which he founded in the 1980s. The party split into two factions while Ggbo awaits trial, one led by Pascal Effie N’Gueson.

The two men went their separate ways, and in August Gabbo announced the formation of a new political party.

Arrested in 2011, Gabbo spent eight years awaiting trial on war crime charges. A judge acquitted him in 2019, saying prosecutors had failed to prove his case. The decision was appealed, but upheld at the end of March, clearing the way for Gabbo to leave Belgium, where he had spent the previous two years.

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Laurent Gbagbo

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