Africa

Ivory Coast president Ouattara pardons predecessor Gbagbo

Alassane Ouattara, the president of the Ivory Coast, declared on Saturday that he has pardoned Laurent Gbagbo, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2018 for inciting political instability.

In a speech to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the nation’s independence, Ouattara stated, “I have issued a decree giving a presidential pardon in the sake of building social solidarity.

The president claimed to have requested the payment of Gbagbo’s life annuity and the unfreezing of his bank accounts.

A decree ordering the conditional release of two of Gbagbo’s closest allies, former navy chief Vagba Faussignaux and a former leader of a crucial gendarmerie unit, Jean-Noel Abehi, who were both found guilty for their roles in the post-election rioting, was also signed, according to Ouattara.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) cleared Gbagbo of any guilt for suspected war crimes committed during the 2011 civil war that broke out after he refused to accept Ouattara’s victory in the previous year’s presidential elections.

But in 2018, an Ivorian court sentenced Gbagbo in absentia to 20 years in prison for robbing the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) during the post-election instability in the nation.

Gbagbo returned from exile in 2021 following his ICC acquittal and established a new political party, but he has since maintained a low profile despite having stated his intention to stay in politics until his passing.

No attempt to jail him on the basis of the 2018 conviction had been made after he returned to the nation.

a “fraternal gathering”

Only a few weeks have passed since the meeting between Outtara, Gbagbo, and Henri Konan Bedie, another former president, which took place on July 14.

The three men “discussed, in a congenial atmosphere, subjects of the national interest and the ways and means of solidifying peace in our country” at that “fraternal encounter,” according to Ouattara’s speech on Saturday.

Gbagbo and Bedie have both been invited to the nation’s political capital Yamoussoukro’s Independence Day celebrations on Sunday.

The former presidents had contested Outtara’s bid for re-election in 2020 because they believed it to be unconstitutional, and that election also resulted in political bloodshed.

The following year’s legislative elections, which went off without a hitch, marked the start of reconciliation efforts.

Even though Ouattara’s party won that election, it did allow the opposition, including Gbagbo’s supporters, who had boycotted all elections since their leader’s overthrow in 2010 after ten years in power, to retake their seats in the National Assembly.

In order to ensure that municipal elections in 2023 and the following presidential election in 2025 may be held without bloodshed, a “political discourse” is now being held between the government, parties, and civil society organizations.

Ouattara, Bedie, and Gbagbo, who are 80, 88, and 77 years old, have controlled Ivorian politics for more than 20 years, respectively.

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