Ivory Coast News - History

Ivory Coast News - History


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Ivory Coast News

IVORY COAST

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OAU-SUMMIT


Ivory Coast profile - Timeline

1842 - France imposes protectorate over coastal zone.

1893 - Ivory Coast made into a colony.

1904 - Ivory Coast becomes part of the French Federation of West Africa.

1944 - Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who later to become Ivory Coast's first president, founds a union of African farmers, which develops into the inter-territorial African Democratic Rally and its Ivorian section, the Ivory Coast Democratic Party.

1958 - Ivory Coast becomes a republic within the French Community.


A French Colony

French trading posts were established from 1830 onwards, along with a protectorate negotiated by the French Admiral Bouët-Willaumez. By the end of the 1800s, the borders for the French colony of Côte d'Ivoire had been agreed with Liberia and the Gold Coast (Ghana).

In 1904 Côte d'Ivoire became part of the Federation of French West Africa (Afrique Occidentale Française) and run as an overseas territory by the Third Republic. The region transferred from Vichy to Free French control in 1943, under the command of Charles de Gaulle. Around the same time, the first indigenous political group was formed: Félix Houphouët-Boigny's Syndicat Agricole Africain (SAA, African Agricultural Syndicate), which represented African farmers and landowners.


Ivory Coast's ex-president to return 10 years after arrest

1 of 3 FILE - In this April 11, 2011 file photo, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, center, and his wife Simone, are seen in the custody of republican forces loyal to election winner Alassane Ouattara, at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Gbagbo is scheduled to return home to Ivory Coast Thursday June 17, 2021 for the first time in nearly a decade. The move comes after his acquittal on war crimes charges was upheld at the International Criminal Court earlier this year. Aristide Bodegla/AP Show More Show Less

2 of 3 Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo greets supporters attending the court session at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Gbagbo is scheduled to return home to Ivory Coast Thursday June 17, 2021 for the first time in nearly a decade. The move comes after his acquittal on war crimes charges was upheld at the International Criminal Court earlier this year. Jerry Lampen/AP Show More Show Less

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) &mdash Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to accept defeat in Ivory Coast's 2010 presidential election sparked months of violence that killed at least 3,000 people and brought the country to the brink of civil war.

It's been more than a decade since his arrest inside an underground bunker at the presidential residence, much of it spent awaiting trial at The Hague on crimes against humanity charges.

Now after his acquittal on all charges was upheld, Gbagbo's scheduled return to Ivory Coast on Thursday is galvanizing his supporters who long felt his prosecution was politically motivated. Gbagbo also appears to be receiving a cautious welcome from Alassane Ouattara, his political rival who ultimately won the contested election and has been president ever since.

Some observers say Gbagbo's plans for a triumphant homecoming will further test the country's political stability less than a year after the incumbent sparked controversy by seeking a term in office.

&ldquoLaurent Gbagbo, for certain communities of victims, is like the wolf that was chased away from the sheepfold and is now coming back," said Issiaka Diaby, president of an advocacy group for victims of the political violence, known as CVCI.

&ldquoThe victims in Ivory Coast are thirsty for justice, thirsty for truth, thirsty for repentance, thirsty for reparations, through the actions of the criminal justice system," he said. "This is an element that Ivory Coast has always lacked in order to achieve reconciliation.&rdquo

Gbagbo was arrested in 2011 and sent six months later to The Hague so he could be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. In 2019, the judge said prosecutors had failed to make their case even before the defense lawyers had presented their side.

The ex-president was released from custody two years ago but has been living in Belgium pending the outcome of the appeal by ICC prosecutors. He's expected to take a commercial flight from Brussels, arriving Thursday afternoon at Felix Houphouet-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan.

Among those likely to greet him will be his wife, Simone, who has not left Ivory Coast over the past decade because there is still an ICC arrest warrant for her stemming from the post-electoral conflict.

Gbagbo's supporters already have begun preparations for a festive welcome, with signs bearing the ex-president's photo on display in parts of Abidjan. Jubilant celebrations took place over the weekend in Mama, his hometown, where he is expected to visit his mother's grave.

The current president, Ouattara, appears to be making efforts for his former rival's smooth return. A week after Gbagbo's acquittal was upheld, Ouattara said that the former president&rsquos travel expenses, as well as those of his family, would be covered by the state.

However, it remains unclear what will become of other pending criminal charges against the ex-president.

Gbagbo and three of his former ministers were sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges they broke into the Abidjan branch of the Central Bank of West African States to get cash amid the post-election crisis in January 2011.

It's unlikely that Ivorian authorities will jail the ex-president, says Ousmane Zina, a political scientist at the University of Bouake.


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Ivory Coast’s ex-president to return 10 years after arrest

FILE – In this April 11, 2011 file photo, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, center, and his wife Simone, are seen in the custody of republican forces loyal to election winner Alassane Ouattara, at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Gbagbo is scheduled to return home to Ivory Coast Thursday June 17, 2021 for the first time in nearly a decade. The move comes after his acquittal on war crimes charges was upheld at the International Criminal Court earlier this year. (AP Photo/Aristide Bodegla, File)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to accept defeat in Ivory Coast’s 2010 presidential election sparked months of violence that killed at least 3,000 people and brought the country to the brink of civil war.

It’s been more than a decade since his arrest inside an underground bunker at the presidential residence, much of it spent awaiting trial at The Hague on crimes against humanity charges.

Now after his acquittal on all charges was upheld, Gbagbo’s scheduled return to Ivory Coast on Thursday is galvanizing his supporters who long felt his prosecution was politically motivated. Gbagbo also appears to be receiving a cautious welcome from Alassane Ouattara, his political rival who ultimately won the contested election and has been president ever since.

Some observers say Gbagbo’s plans for a triumphant homecoming will further test the country’s political stability less than a year after the incumbent sparked controversy by seeking a term in office.

“Laurent Gbagbo, for certain communities of victims, is like the wolf that was chased away from the sheepfold and is now coming back,” said Issiaka Diaby, president of an advocacy group for victims of the political violence, known as CVCI.

“The victims in Ivory Coast are thirsty for justice, thirsty for truth, thirsty for repentance, thirsty for reparations, through the actions of the criminal justice system,” he said. “This is an element that Ivory Coast has always lacked in order to achieve reconciliation.”

Gbagbo was arrested in 2011 and sent six months later to The Hague so he could be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. In 2019, the judge said prosecutors had failed to make their case even before the defense lawyers had presented their side.

The ex-president was released from custody two years ago but has been living in Belgium pending the outcome of the appeal by ICC prosecutors. He’s expected to take a commercial flight from Brussels, arriving Thursday afternoon at Felix Houphouet-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan.

Among those likely to greet him will be his wife, Simone, who has not left Ivory Coast over the past decade because there is still an ICC arrest warrant for her stemming from the post-electoral conflict.

Gbagbo’s supporters already have begun preparations for a festive welcome, with signs bearing the ex-president’s photo on display in parts of Abidjan. Jubilant celebrations took place over the weekend in Mama, his hometown, where he is expected to visit his mother’s grave.

The current president, Ouattara, appears to be making efforts for his former rival’s smooth return. A week after Gbagbo’s acquittal was upheld, Ouattara said that the former president’s travel expenses, as well as those of his family, would be covered by the state.

However, it remains unclear what will become of other pending criminal charges against the ex-president.

Gbagbo and three of his former ministers were sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges they broke into the Abidjan branch of the Central Bank of West African States to get cash amid the post-election crisis in January 2011.

It’s unlikely that Ivorian authorities will jail the ex-president, says Ousmane Zina, a political scientist at the University of Bouake.

“Ultimately, I think that the Ivorian authorities will not make this mistake, which would be a serious blow to the reconciliation process and to the stability of the country,” he said.

However, Ouattara is likely to attach conditions to Gbagbo’s return in an effort to avoid reigniting tensions of the past, he added.

“Before granting a pardon or amnesty, he will want to obtain a guarantee that the country will remain peaceful,” Zina said.

Gbagbo officially received nearly 46% of the vote in 2010 and maintains a strong base of supporters who allege they have been left out of the reconciliation process in the years since his ouster. They maintain that most of the prosecutions related to the post-electoral violence targeted allies of Gbagbo, while few loyal to Ouattara faced trial.

Gbagbo’s return also comes seven months after Ouattara won a controversial third term in office after he argued that term limits did not apply to him. Gbagbo was disqualified from taking part in that election and his future political ambitions remain unclear.

Yao-Edmond Kouassi, a political researcher at Alassane Ouattara University in Bouake, said Ivory Coast is on the path of reconciliation.

“But the opposing camp must understand that their living together will have more meaning with the arrival of Mr. Gbagbo,” he said.

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


In test for Ivory Coast, controversial ex-president Gbagbo heading home

Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo returns on Thursday to a country that he left in humiliation almost a decade ago, forced out after a bloody conflict and dispatched to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity.

His homecoming will be a key test of stability in Ivory Coast, the world's biggest cocoa producer and the wealthiest country in francophone West Africa.

Gbagbo, 76, is set to arrive aboard a commercial flight from Brussels, his home since the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted him in 2019. An appeal against the ruling failed in March, paving the way for his return.

Gbagbo was ousted in April 2011 after a war sparked by his refusal to accept electoral defeat at the hands of Alassane Ouattara, the current president.

Around 3,000 people died in the months-long conflict, which left Ivory Coast divided along north-south lines.

Today, Gbagbo has been recast in the role of statesman, called upon to help national reconciliation after elections last year left scores of dead.

Ouattara, 79, has facilitated his return, issuing his rival with a diplomatic passport and promising him the rewards and status due to ex-presidents.

In a "powerful message," Ouattara has made the presidential salon at Abidjan airport available for his return, the secretary of Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Party, Assoua Adou, told AFP on Monday.

Gbagbo is among a handful of powerful, ageing politicians whose careers were forged in Ivory Coast's early years of independence from France.

A historian and socialist from a humble background in a country whose politics is dominated by well-off families, he launched a campaign in the 1970s to end the country's single-party system.

He was jailed for almost two years and in the 1980s spent years in exile in France.

After he returned and a multiparty system was introduced, Gbagbo became the sole opposition candidate to Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Ivory Coast's revered founding father, in elections in 1990.

Gbagbo was elected president in 2000, but his tenure was marked by division and rebellion.

Elections that should have been held in 2005 were postponed again and again until 2010, when he lost to Ouattara, and conflict erupted.

Gbagbo has accused France of being behind the "plot" that led to his arrest on April 11, 2011 by Ouattara's French-backed forces.

Gbagbo's supporters chorused for his return after his acquittal by the ICC in 2019.

But their campaign gained special traction last year after Ouattara declared he would bid for a third term in office -- a move that critics said violated the constitution.

After scores of deaths and a ballot largely boycotted by the opposition, Ouattara found himself re-elected by a landslide -- but presiding over a divided country fearful of another descent into bloodshed.

In his home region of Gagnoa, where he is a cult figure, Gbagbo's face has been emblazoned on caps, T-shirts and colourful kaftans proclaiming that the "Lion of Africa Is Back".

"He was a perfect president," said one of his supporters, Agnes Koudy. "With him, there was joy in being alive. We've missed him so much."

Joseph Goli Obou, 71, a traditional chief clad in a gown bearing Gbagbo's face, said: "When a son is gone from you for a while, you do not stand back when he comes back.

"I am getting the whole village swept. I am preparing food for the people who are coming with him -- sheep, beef. I have already prepared his house, his bed."

The FPI have insisted that Gbagbo is returning in peace. In March, his party took part in legislative elections, ending a decade-long boycott of the ballot box.

But the authorities have been worried that celebrations could turn violent or that Gbagbo, a skilled orator and wily politician, may not play the alloted role of elder statesman.

"The wounds are still open. and the authorities are worried that Gbagbo will stir up the crowds again, which is one of his hallmarks," said Rinaldo Depagne, a researcher at the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

If Gbagbo actively works on reconciliation, "this would be a good thing, because he carries considerable weight," Depagne said.


WASHINGTON The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a lawsuit accusing Cargill Inc and a Nestle SA subsidiary of knowingly helping perpetuate slavery at Ivory Coast cocoa farms, but sidestepped a broader ruling on the permissibility of suits accusing American companies of human rights violations abroad.

ABIDJAN Ivory Coast is preparing for the return of former President Laurent Gbagbo on Thursday, a move that his supporters and the government hope will help ease tensions that have hung over the country since his arrest a decade ago.


Former President Laurent Gbagbo returns to Ivory Coast after ICC acquittal

June 17 (UPI) -- Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo returned to the country for the first time in 10 years on Thursday after he was acquitted of charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

Gbagbo landed in Abidjan, the country's economic hub, on a commercial flight from Brussels as crowds of supporters at the airport cheered his arrival.

Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Idris said the situation in the city was "very tense" ahead of Gbagbo's arrival.

"The police barricaded the entire area close to the airport and there were some incidents where they used tear gas to disperse crowds," he said.

In his first public remarks at the Ivorian Popular Front Party offices, he told supporters he was "glad to return to Ivory Coast and Africa" prompting "wild celebrations."

"For the last hour there has been a steady stream of supporters on buses, on cars, on motorcycles and on foot, moving towards the party headquarters," Idris said. "The supporters are telling us they are going to party all night."

Gbagbo's successor, President Alassane Ouattara, invited him back to the country after his acquittal and Gbagbo accepted, saying he wanted to promote peace.

The charges against Gbagbo stem from his refusal to hand over power to Ouattara in 2011, sparking violent protests in the country.

Thousands of people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced in an ensuing civil war as French troops and the United Nations were forced to intervene.

In 2019, the ICC called for his conditional release after judges ruled prosecutors had failed to demonstrate the existence of a plan to keep Gbagbo in power and he was acquitted.

An ICC appeals court upheld the acquittal in March, dismissing an argument by prosecutors that there were procedural errors in how the original verdict was delivered.

Gbagbo could, however, still serve prison time after he was sentenced to 20-years by Ivory Coast authorities in absentia in 2019 for "looting" the Central Bank of the West African States after the disputed election.


Ex-President Gbagbo back in Ivory Coast after acquittal

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo arrives at the international airport, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday, June 17, 2021. After nearly a decade, Gbagbo returns to his country following his acquittal on war crimes charges was upheld at the International Criminal Court earlier this year. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

BRUSSELS – Former President Laurent Gbagbo returned home to Ivory Coast on Thursday, a decade after his refusal to concede defeat in a presidential election sparked months of violence that left more than 3,000 people dead.

Gbagbo was extradited to the International Criminal Court at The Hague in 2011 and spent eight years awaiting trial on war crimes charges. A judge acquitted him in 2019, saying prosecutors had failed to prove their case.

The verdict was appealed but upheld in late March, clearing the way for Gbagbo to leave Belgium, where he had spent the past two years.

After coming down the steps to the runway, Gbagbo soon made his way to a vehicle that was then surrounded by crowds as it headed toward the city.

He later made a brief but emotional speech to his supporters at his former campaign headquarters in Cocody.

“I am happy to return to Ivory Coast and to Africa,” he said before adding: “I know that I am Ivorian but in prison I knew that I belonged to Africa.”

While the government led by his longtime rival President Alassane Ouattara has allowed Gbagbo’s return to Ivorian soil, there already have been concerns about what impact his presence will have on the nation's political stability. It is not immediately known whether the 76-year-old ex-president will seek to re-enter politics.

Tensions between the jubilant crowds and security forces were high, with tear gas being used to disperse people coming to greet Gbagbo near the airport on Thursday. Clashes continued later along the route Gbagbo's vehicle took toward his former campaign headquarters.

His opponents, though, maintain he should be jailed in Ivory Coast, not given a statesman’s welcome. Some demonstrated outside Gbagbo’s residence in the Cocody on Wednesday.

Thursday remained mostly a day of jubilation for Gbagbo’s supporters, who long have maintained his prosecution was unfair and politically motivated. The ex-president garnered nearly 46% of the vote in 2010 and maintains a strong base of supporters.

“After his arrival we want peace and reconciliation, we want to live together because we were born together so we are obliged to live together” said Chief Tanouh, a traditional leader from the country's east.

Ouattara, who was ultimately declared the winner of the 2010 vote and has been president of Ivory Coast ever since, did not greet Gbagbo at the airport Thursday. The current president won a controversial third term in office late last year after the opposition claimed many of its candidates were disqualified including Gbagbo.

It still remains unclear what will become of other pending criminal charges against the ex-president.

Gbagbo and three of his former ministers were sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges they broke into the Abidjan branch of the Central Bank of West African States to get cash amid the post-election crisis in January 2011.

It’s unlikely that Ivorian authorities will jail the ex-president, says Ousmane Zina, a political scientist at the University of Bouake. However, Ouattara is likely to attach conditions to Gbagbo’s return in an effort to avoid reigniting tensions of the past, he added.

“Before granting a pardon or amnesty, he will want to obtain a guarantee that the country will remain peaceful,” Zina said.

Associated Press journalists Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal and Bishr El- Touni, Mark Carlson and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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