The Ivorian president pardons his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo | Political news
Alassane Ouattara says he pardoned his longtime rival to strengthen “social cohesion” in Côte d’Ivoire.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has pardoned his predecessor and longtime rival Laurent Gbagbo as part of a reconciliation campaign ahead of elections due in 2025.
Ouattara made the announcement in a televised address on Saturday, a day before Ivory Coast’s independence celebrations.
“In the interest of strengthening social cohesion, I have signed a decree granting a presidential pardon,” he said in his speech.
The president said he had also requested that Gbagbo’s bank accounts be unblocked and that his life annuity be paid to him.
Gbagbo, president from 2000 to 2011, returned to Ivory Coast last year after being acquitted in 2019 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague of war crimes for his role in a civil war sparked by his refusal to concede defeat after the 2010 election.
Back home, he still faces 20 years in prison for a 2019 conviction linked to the theft of funds from Abidjan’s central bank during the post-election period.
But he has always denied the charges.
Ouattara’s decision to pardon follows a rare meeting in July between him, Gbagbo, and former President Henri Konan Bédié.
Ouattara, in his speech on Saturday, described the occasion as a “fraternal meeting” during which the three men had “discussed, in a friendly atmosphere, issues of national interest and ways and means of consolidating peace in our country”.
Gbagbo and Bédié were invited to attend Independence Day celebrations on Sunday in Yamoussoukro, the country’s political capital.
The three men have dominated Ivory Coast’s turbulent political scene since the 1990s.
Bedie served as president from 1993 until his removal in a coup in 1999. Gbagbo ruled from 2000 until his electoral defeat to Ouattara in 2010.
Tensions came to a head after the 2010 elections. Gbagbo refused to concede defeat, leading to a brief civil war that killed around 3,000 people before Ouattara-aligned rebel forces swept through the main city from Abidjan.
Ouattara has presided over relative stability during his decade in power. But dozens of people have been killed in clashes that erupted around the 2020 election, when he ran for a third term that Gbagbo and Bedie have called unconstitutional.
The president has yet to say whether he plans to run for a fourth term in 2025. He said he would like to step down, but also suggested he would need Gbagbo and Bedie to commit to stepping down from office. policy to do so.
They have not indicated so far what their plans are.