Gbagbo Sets Sight On 2025 Elections, Pushes For Amnesty

Gbagbo Sets Sight On 2025 Elections, Pushes For Amnesty
Laurent Gbagbo
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The President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara last week lifted the shadow of a jail sentence over his erstwhile bitter political rival Laurent Gbagbo, however, the measure may only go a short way toward lowering the political temperature as the former President now has his eyes fixed on future ambitions.

Africa Daily News, New York recalls that Gbagbo returned home last year following a battle at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague that resulted in his acquittal on war crimes charges. Gbagbo formerly engaged in a brief but brutal presidential battle with Ouattara.

Since then, Ouattara has welcomed him with open arms, giving him the opportunity to play the statesman’s role in calming the unrest that erupted during the 2020 presidential elections and took many lives.

The most recent action taken by Ouattara was to commute Gbagbo’s 20-year sentence for “looting” the local branch of the Central Bank of the West African States during the 2010–2011 crisis.

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Analysts have however continued to maintain that this is only a partial concession for Gbagbo.

At 77, the veteran political fox and powerful left-wing orator is still widely believed to have eyes on a return to the presidency.

Jean Alabro, a political commentator based in Ivory Coast’s economic hub Abidjan, said Ouattara, 80, would have carefully “weighed” whether to pardon or amnesty Gbagbo.

A pardon under Ivory Coast law does not confer the same force as an amnesty: a person who has been convicted of a crime is barred from contesting the elections, due in 2025.

Without an amnesty, “Gbagbo will have constitutional problems being a candidate,” said Alabro.

Kone Katinan, spokesman of Gbagbo’s African Peoples’ Party (PPA-CI), said the pardon, “such as has been issued, is a step forward, but this is not what we expected. We want an amnesty.”

The pardon was issued on Ivory Coast’s independence day, August 7.

It came with an announcement that Gbagbo’s bank accounts were being unfrozen and annuities from his decade as president were being paid in arrears — an amount worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The West African state remains deeply scarred by the 2010-11 conflict, which erupted after Gbagbo refused to concede electoral defeat to Ouattara.

Several thousand people were killed and the country was divided on north-south lines.

Memories of the bloodshed revived in 2020 when Ouattara bid for a third term in office — a plan that stoked violent protests that he was circumventing the constitution.

The “dialogue” brings together the government, political parties and civil society, with the aim of ensuring that local elections due next year and the 2025 presidential ballot unfold peacefully.

Africa Daily News, New York

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