Published on : 31/12/2020 – 08:19Modified : 31/12/2020 – 08:23
Pascal Affi Nguessan, one of the main opposition leaders in Côte d’Ivoire, was released under judicial supervision on Wednesday after almost two months in preventive detention. This decision comes following talks between the government and the opposition in view of the legislative elections in March.
While dozens of supporters celebrated his return, Wednesday, December 30, to his luxurious residence in the upscale Riviera Golf district in Abidjan, applauding, singing and dancing, Pascal Affi Nguessan, 67, said he was “in good health, happy to be free again” and “relieved to find family, friends and comrades in the struggle”.
He appeared however tired, with white hair and a white beard unusual for this former Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast, usually always dressed to the nines. He said he “was not mistreated” while in detention.
His lawyer, Me Pierre Dagbo Gode, announced in the afternoon his release “under judicial supervision” “after a hearing before the investigating judge”.
President of a faction of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI, party of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo), and spokesperson for a part of the opposition which did not recognize the re-election of President Alassane Ouattara, he had been arrested on November 9, about a hundred kilometers from Abidjan, after a run of a few days.
“My release comes following discussions within the framework of the dialogue” conducted between the opposition and the authorities to “ease” the political climate, very tense since the presidential election of October 31 which led to re-election, for a controversial third term of President Alassane Ouattara, Affi Nguessan told AFP after being released.
In search of a calming political climate
Power, opposition and civil society completed a first week-long round of talks on Tuesday, after which the date for legislative elections was set for March 6, 2021, according to the government. Although no agreement has been formally signed, progress has been made in the opinion of all parties.
The opposition demands in particular the end of the prosecution and the release of its leaders indicted following the electoral violence linked to the presidential election, which left 85 dead and nearly 500 injured from August to November. Other activists are still imprisoned. “I hope the authorities will not stop when I am released,” Affi Nguessan said.
He announced that he would “resume his political activities”, and “hope” for a reunification of the FPI between his faction and that of Laurent Gbagbo’s faithful so that the party “reposition itself on the national political scene by gaining the maximum amount of money. seats in the legislative elections “.
President Alassane Ouattara also spoke on Wednesday in the Council of Ministers, saying that the political dialogue was “an important step”, even if “we cannot settle everything in one day”.
“These (legislative) elections will allow us to see the true political landscape of our country after more than ten years of absence from certain political parties (the FPI, Editor’s note) and I am personally committed to ensuring that the appeasement measures can be taken, “said the head of state.