Laurent Gbagbo’s intact political ambitions in Côte d’Ivoire

Ivory Coast: from the armed rebellion to the return of Laurent Gbagbo, chronology of twenty years of crises

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In Mama, the native village of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, his return on June 17, 2021 is eagerly awaited.

Thursday, June 17, after ten years of absence, former President Laurent Gbagbo, acquitted of crimes against humanity by international justice, is expected by the crowd of his supporters for his return to Abidjan. Focus on the key dates of twenty years of crises in Côte d’Ivoire.

On September 19, 2002, an armed rebellion attempted to overthrow the regime of Laurent Gbagbo, elected President of the Republic in 2000, before seizing the north of the country. Côte d’Ivoire is cut in two between a rebellious North and a loyalist South.

Despite the end of his mandate in 2005, Mr. Gbagbo remained in power and managed to postpone the presidential election six times, until 2010.

At the end of the presidential election, the country finds itself, on December 3, 2010, with two presidents: the Constitutional Council proclaimed the victory of outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo and the Electoral Commission, that of his rival, Alassane Ouattara, an election recognized by the United Nations.

Read also Ivory Coast: Michel Gbagbo, at the service of the father

The next day, Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to acknowledge his defeat, is invested head of state while his rival takes the oath “As president”.

While Mr. Gbagbo settles in the presidential palace, the supporters of Mr. Ouattara and members of his government take refuge in the Hotel du Golf in Abidjan, subject to a blockade.

  • Gbagbo arrested, Ouattara invested

On March 28, 2011, after four months of tension, violence and fruitless mediation, the pro-Ouattara Republican Forces (FRCI, former rebels who controlled the north of the country) launched an offensive, taking control of almost the entire country in four days.

On April 11, Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by the FRCI, after a ten-day battle in the capital and several days of bombardment by the French force Licorne and the UN.

More than 3,000 people are killed in this crisis.

On May 21, Alassane Ouattara is officially invested. He will be re-elected in 2015, then in 2020.

  • A former president before the ICC

On November 30, 2011, Laurent Gbagbo was imprisoned in the detention center of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, joined on March 22, 2014 by one of his relatives, Charles Blé Goudé, former leader of the Young Patriots movement .

Their trial begins in January 2016. Mr. Gbagbo is the first ex-head of state to be prosecuted by the ICC.

They are targeted by four counts of “Crimes against humanity”, “murders”, “rapes”, “persecutions and other inhumane acts”. They both plead not guilty.

  • Simone Gbagbo sentenced, acquitted, amnestied

In Abidjan, Laurent Gbagbo’s wife, Simone, against whom the ICC also issued an arrest warrant in 2012, was sentenced in March 2015 to twenty years in prison for endangering state security.

Read also In Ivory Coast, Simone Gbagbo does not want to be sidelined in politics

Accused of ” crime against humanity “, “Crime against prisoners of war” and “Crimes against civilian populations”, she was acquitted on March 28, 2017 during a new trial, a decision overturned by the Supreme Court.

She was released in August 2018, after a presidential amnesty to promote national reconciliation.

On January 15, 2019, Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé were acquitted by the ICC.

In February, they were released under conditions, before a possible appeal trial.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also ICC acquits Laurent Gbagbo definitively, paving the way for his return to Côte d’Ivoire

In November, Ivorian justice sentenced on appeal in absentia Mr. Gbagbo to twenty years in prison for the ” robbery “ of the Central Bank of West African States (Bécéao) during the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011.

Charles Blé Goudé was sentenced the following month to twenty years in prison for crimes committed during this crisis.

  • Gbagbo’s party in the race again

In May 2020, the ICC authorizes Laurent Gbagbo under conditions to leave Belgium, where he has been under house arrest since his acquittal.

On September 14, the Ivorian Constitutional Council rejected some forty candidates for the October presidential election, including that of Laurent Gbagbo. The ballot was won by Alassane Ouattara, whose controversial candidacy for a third term led to violence killing nearly 100 people.

To analyse From Houphouët to Ouattara, a heritage ivory tower

In March 2021, the legislative elections were marked by the great return to the electoral game of the Front populaire ivoirien (FPI) of Laurent Gbagbo, which boycotted all the polls since the arrest of its leader.

The ruling party wins the legislative elections, but loses the qualified majority in Parliament.

On March 31, 2021, the ICC definitively confirms the acquittals of MM. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé and lift the restrictions on their release.

Read also Ivory Coast: the village of Laurent Gbagbo ready for the return of the “father”

On April 7, President Ouattara gave the green light for the return of his rival to Côte d’Ivoire.

On June 17, Laurent Gbagbo is expected in Abidjan after ten years of absence.

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