Supporters of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his political ally Charles Blé Goudé are eagerly awaiting the return of the duo as the country readies for keenly awaited presidential elections. Gbagbo’s travel restrictions from Belgium were lifted this week by the ICC, igniting talks of his return to the country. Supporters at a press conference said all was set to receive the former president. Saraka Patrice, secretary-general for the Pan-African Congress for Justice and Equality said: “We are convinced that Charles Blé Goudé and President Laurent Gbagbo will be in Côte d’Ivoire very, very soon, that is the main thing.
“It could be tomorrow, it could be the day after tomorrow. The day is not what is important, because you even know that we have been calling for the lifting of restrictive measures for a long time. We were convinced that these measures were going to be lifted.” The supporters further called for President Alassane Ouattara to lead a national reconciliation in the interest of peace in the West African nation.
“We appeal to the President of the Republic, Mr. Alassane Ouattara, to his political party, the unified RHDP, and to the government to seize this opportunity to commit Côte d’Ivoire definitively to the path of true reconciliation and lasting peace,” Assoa Adou of the IPF also added. Gbagbo can leave Belgium under certain conditions, the International Criminal Court has said, following his acquittal last year over post-election violence that killed an estimated 3,000 people.
Gbagbo, the first African head of state to stand trial in The Hague, and his deputy Charles Ble Goude were cleared in early 2019 of crimes against humanity – eight years after their arrest and arraignment before the court.