Ivory Coast president pardons predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has pardoned his predecessor and longtime rival, Laurent Gbagbo, as part of a reconciliation drive ahead of elections due in 2025.
Ouattara made the announcement in a televised address on Saturday, a day before Ivory Coast’s independence celebrations.
“In the interests of strengthening social cohesion, I have signed a decree granting a presidential pardon,” he said in his speech.
The president said he has also asked that Gbagbo’s bank accounts be unfrozen and that his lifetime annuity be paid.
Gbagbo, president from 2000 to 2011, returned to Ivory Coast last year after being acquitted in 2019 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague on war crime charges for his role in a civil war sparked by his refusal to concede defeat after the 2010 election.
Back home, he still faced a 20-year prison sentence for a 2019 conviction linked to the robbery of funds from the Abidjan central bank during the post-election period.
But he has always denied the charges. Ouattara’s decision for a pardon follows a rare meeting in July between him, Gbagbo, and former President Henri Konan Bedie.
Ouattara, in his Saturday speech, described that occasion as a “fraternal meeting” in which the three men had “discussed, in a friendly atmosphere, matters of the national interest and the ways and means of consolidating peace in our country”.
Gbagbo and Bedie have been invited to attend independence day celebrations on Sunday at Yamoussoukro, the country’s political capital.
The three men have dominated Ivory Coast’s fractious political scene since the 1990s.