After the acquittal of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé by the International Criminal Court, President Alassane Ouattara authorized the former head of state to return to his country.
President Alassane Ouattara gave this April 7 the green light for the return to Côte d’Ivoire of his great rival, former President Laurent Gbagbo, and his former Minister of Youth Charles Blé Goudé, “when they wish” , a week after their final acquittal of crimes against humanity by international justice.
Awaited with great impatience by supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, who remain numerous in Côte d’Ivoire despite his absence for ten years, President Ouattara’s decision to let him return is a strong sign of his desire to work for “reconciliation. national ”in a country whose recent history is marked by political violence.
“Messrs Gbagbo and Blé Goudé are free to return to Côte d’Ivoire whenever they wish,” said Alassane Ouattara at the opening of the first council of ministers of his new government formed on Tuesday.
“Arrangements will be made for Laurent Gbagbo to benefit, in accordance with the texts in force, from the benefits and indemnities due to the former Presidents of the Republic”, he added, specifying that “his travel expenses” and those “of the members of his family will be supported by the State of Côte d’Ivoire ”.
The Head of State did not mention the conviction in Côte d’Ivoire of Laurent Gbagbo to 20 years in prison for the “robbery” of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) during the violence 2010-2011 post-election.
But Amadou Coulibaly, new Minister of Communication and government spokesperson, then hinted that this sentence would be lifted.
“I am sticking to the words of the Head of State, it seems quite clear to me: we are not going to offer the trip to Gbagbo to put him behind bars,” he said at a conference. press after the Council of Ministers.
“This decision facilitates the task of the Minister of Reconciliation that I am”, declared Kouadio Konan Bertin, Minister of National Reconciliation. President Ouattara is “in a frame of mind to go to reconciliation and peace”, according to him.
Satisfaction of the Minister of National Reconciliation
“We welcome this decision […] likely to give new impetus to national reconciliation, ”said Simplice Séri Zokou, one of Charles Blé Goudé’s lawyers.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed just a week ago the acquittal, pronounced in 2019, of Laurent Gbagbo, definitively found not guilty of crimes against humanity, paving the way for his return to Côte d’Ivoire after a decade of absence.
The judges rejected the appeal of the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, against the acquittals of Laurent Gbagbo and one of his relatives, Charles Blé Goudé, former leader of the Young Patriots movement, pronounced in January 2019 at the resulting from a trial for crimes against humanity related to post-election violence in 2010 and 2011.
Laurent Gbagbo, the first former head of state tried by the ICC, and Charles Blé Goudé have always proclaimed their innocence in these crimes which left 3,000 dead in Côte d’Ivoire, during violence at the end of 2010.
In the name of “national reconciliation”, the authorities had granted Laurent Gbagbo at the end of 2020 two passports, one ordinary and one diplomatic, and the person concerned then expressed his wish to return in December.
This return, which he then announced for “soon”, remained suspended to the decision of the ICC, but it was also to a definitive green light from the power now acquired.
He will intervene, at a date that remains to be fixed, in a context of appeasement of Ivorian political life, a month after legislative elections which took place in peace and without street protest, unlike the presidential election in October. 2020 which had given rise to violence that killed a hundred people.
These elections in which Laurent Gbagbo’s Front populaire ivoirien (FPI) took part, which had boycotted all the polls for ten years, were won by the ruling party, but also allowed the return of 91 opposition deputies to the Assembly. national.