By Hannatu Sadiq
Côte d’Ivoire’s Head of State, Alassane Ouattara has extended a presidential courtesy to welcome his old rival, Laurent Gbagbo from exile.
As the former president returns from a decade long exile, the country and the presidency has planned a regal welcome as a peaceful gesture to avoid renewed conflict.
Ouattara’s party on Monday announced at a press conference that upon his flight’s arrival, he will go through the airport’s VIP facilities to then be received at the presidential pavilion.
In April 2011, Mr. Gbagbo was forced from office – captured in a bunker at the presidential palace by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival Ouattara, internationally regarded as the winner of elections five months earlier. Mr. Gbagbo was transferred to the ICC at The Hague, where he became the first former head of state to be tried there.
Gbagbo was acquitted of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court — charges he faced after 3000 people lost their life in electoral violence in 2010 when he refused to concede defeat to then-victor and current President Ouattara.
“Today I solemnly confirm that President Laurent Gbagbo will arrive in Abidjan on Thursday, June 17 2021 by scheduled flight from Brussels at 3.45 pm at Félix Houphouët-Boigny airport,” announced Assoua Adou, the general secretary of Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front political party.
Assoua Adou continued his address to the media, “You heard the other day that Tehini (North) was attacked (by terrorists) so Côte d’Ivoire is now in danger of destabilization by jihadists. If we don’t get along and someone goes out into the street and says, ‘I am a victim’, then we will all be lost. This is why the Ivorian Popular Front is resolutely committed to reconciliation.”