A new sign of the ongoing appeasement in Côte d’Ivoire, a country with a recent history marked by political violence, President Alassane Ouattara on Saturday granted his pardon to his predecessor and former rival Laurent Gbagbo, under the blow of a sentence of 20 years in prison in his country.
“In order to strengthen social cohesion, I signed a decree granting presidential pardon to Mr. Laurent Gbagbo,” said Mr. Ouattara in a speech on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the independence of the Côte d’Ivoire. ‘Ivory.
The Head of State also announced that he had requested “that his accounts be unfrozen and his arrears of life annuities be paid”.
He also indicated that he had signed a decree granting “conditional release” to two former figures of the military and security apparatus of Laurent Gbagbo’s regime, convicted for their role in the 2010-2011 crisis.
They are Vice-Admiral Vagba Faussignaux, ex-boss of the Navy, and Commander Jean-Noël Abéhi, former head of the armored squadron of the gendarmerie at Agban camp in Abidjan.
Laurent Gbagbo, 77, definitively acquitted in March 2021 of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague where he had been transferred at the end of 2011, returned to his country on June 17, 2021 with the green light from Mr Ouattara.
Without ever having been worried since his return, he nevertheless remained under the influence in Côte d’Ivoire of a 20-year prison sentence for “the robbery” of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) during the crisis of 2010-2011.
The crisis arose from Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to recognize Alassane Ouattara’s victory in the presidential election at the end of 2010, which had led to violence that left some 3,000 dead until the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan in April 2011.
In October 2021, he launched the African People’s Party – Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI), a new left-wing pan-Africanist political formation. He has remained relatively discreet since, even if he says he wants to continue to do politics until his death.
This grace comes shortly after a meeting on July 14 between Alassane Ouattara, Laurent Gbagbo and another former president, Henri Konan Bédié, both opponents.
– Guests at Independence Day –
“A fraternal meeting” during which “we discussed, in a friendly atmosphere, on issues of national interest and on the ways and means of consolidating peace in our country”, affirmed the Head of State in his speech on Saturday.
He had previously met the two men separately, Henri Konan Bédié in November 2020 and Laurent Gbagbo in July 2021, a month after his return to Abidjan.
Both were invited to take part in Independence Day celebrations in Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian political capital, on Sunday.
The former presidents had challenged Alassane Ouattara’s candidacy for a new term in October 2020, which they deemed unconstitutional, Mr. Konan Bédié calling for “civil disobedience”.
This presidential election had given rise to new political violence which had caused nearly a hundred deaths.
Even before the final acquittal of Laurent Gbagbo by the ICC and his return authorized by Alassane Ouattara, the appeasement had begun on the occasion of the legislative elections of March 2021 which had taken place in a major incident.
Won by the presidential party, they had nevertheless allowed the return of the opposition to the National Assembly, including the supporters of Laurent Gbagbo who boycotted all the polls since his defeat in 2010 after ten years in power.
A “political dialogue” bringing together the government, political parties and civil society organizations has opened with a view to allowing the next local elections in 2023 and the presidential election in 2025 to take place without violence.
Ivorian political life has been dominated for more than twenty years by MM. Ouattara, Bédié and Gbagbo, aged 80, 88 and 77 respectively.