Published on : 04/12/2020 – 16:18
Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, on parole in Brussels after his acquittal at first instance by the International Criminal Court (ICC), has obtained a passport and is considering returning to Côte d’Ivoire in December.
Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, on parole in Brussels, was given two passports and intends to return to his country in the coming weeks, his lawyer said on Friday (December 4th).
“President Laurent Gbagbo received today two passports, one ordinary and one diplomatic,” wrote Mr.e Habiba Touré in a press release.
A source close to the Ivorian presidency confirmed that two passports had been issued to him.
“Now having his passport, he plans to return to Côte d’Ivoire during the month of December”, continued the lawyer, explaining that Laurent Gbagbo had asked the secretary general of the Front populaire ivoirien (FPI, the party he founded), Assoa Adou, to “approach the competent authorities in order to organize his return in peace”.
Laurent Gbagbo was arrested at the end of the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011 – born of his refusal to accept his defeat in the face of Alassane Ouattara in the presidential election and which had 3,000 dead – and transferred to the ICC in 2011. He was acquitted of crimes against humanity at first instance in January 2019. An appeal is still under consideration.
“The sense of appeasement”
Laurent Gbagbo, aged 75, “welcomed” the issuance of this passport as an “act which […] goes in the direction of appeasement “and asks the Ivorian authorities” to take another step towards easing the socio-political climate “, still tense one month after the presidential election which saw the re-election of President Alassane Ouattara for a controversial third term, a poll punctuated by unrest that left at least 85 dead and nearly 500 injured.
The passport drama has been going on for several months. Me Touré had accused the authorities in July of refusing him, in particular so that he could not return to his country for the presidential election of October 31.
Laurent Gbagbo’s candidacy for the presidential election was presented in Côte d’Ivoire by his supporters, but invalidated by the constitutional council.
The return of the former head of state is one of the points under discussion between the government and a part of the opposition which does not recognize the re-election of President Ouattara.
Ouattara in favor of Gbagbo’s return
He had repeatedly stated that he was in favor of Laurent Gbagbo returning to Côte d’Ivoire. From a presidential source, it was appreciated that Gbagbo did not call for “civil disobedience” like the rest of the opposition in the presidential election, and was unfavorable to the participation of his party’s cadres in the National Security Council. transition “proclaimed by opponents, supposed to replace the Ouattara regime.
These disturbances led to the arrest of political figures, including the opposition spokesperson, former Prime Minister, Pascal Affi N’Guessan and Maurice Guikahué, number two in the main opposition party.
Laurent Gbagbo is still facing a twenty-year prison sentence by the Ivorian courts for the “robbery” of the Central Bank of West African States during the 2010-2011 crisis.