Eid Al Adha

Cote D’Ivoire President Ouattara to meet ex-rival Gbagbo

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Cote D’Ivoire leader Alassane Ouattara will meet his predecessor and former rival Laurent Gbagbo on July 27 for their first talks since Gbagbo’s return home after a nearly 10-yearin exile, the presidency said on Wednesday.

The long-awaited talks are widely seen in Cote D’Ivoire as a key to easing the country’s simmering political tensions.

The meeting will take place in the presidential palace, spokesman Amadou Coulibaly said, adding that the pair had been “in touch” by phone in early July.

Ouattara and Gbagbo headed rival factions in a post-election conflict in 2010-11 that claimed several thousand lives.

Gbagbo, 76, was arrested in April 2011 and dragged before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity resulting from the violence.

He was acquitted in January 2019, a decision that was upheld in March this year and enabled him to return home on June 17.

Ouattara, 79, has officially welcomed Gbagbo’s return, seeing it as a key to easing the country’s entrenched problems.

Scores of people were killed last year in pre-electoral clashes with the police after Ouattara controversially unveiled his bid for a third presidential term.

He scored a landslide victory in the October 31 election, but it had little credibility as almost all of the opposition boycotted the poll.

Left-wing campaigner

Gbagbo rose to prominence in the 1970s as a left-wing campaigner who fought against the one-party system that was installed in Ivory Coast after it gained independence from France.

He was jailed for almost two years and spent years in exile in France.

He became President from 2000 until 2011, but it was a time of rebellion, division and repeatedly postponed elections.

Despite his turbulent record, he retains considerable grassroots support, and his defenders portray him as a charismatic champion of the poor and oppressed.

Gbagbo was convicted in absentia of “looting” the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) during the 2010-11 conflict, and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Authorities have however, hinted that this sentence will be lifted.

 

Olajumoke Adeleke/CGTN

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