Category Archives: West Africa – Cote D’ivoire

Parliamentary election begin months after Presidential election birth violence.

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Gbagbo was president during a turbulent period between 2000 and 2011, when civil warfare split the country.

Campaigning for parliamentary elections in Ivory Coast began on Friday, with the March 6 vote coming four months after a presidential election marred by violence.

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The opposition boycotted the presidential poll, calling for “civil disobedience”. But it has decided to take part in the vote to elect members of a National Assembly currently dominated by the ruling party.

For the first time in a decade, the branch of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) led by former president Laurent Gbagbo will put forth candidates, as part of coalition called Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS).

EDS has forged an alliance with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), headed by former President Henri Konan Bedie, who was allied with the ruling RHDP in the last legislative elections in December 2016.

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Between the PDCI and RHDP, they obtained an absolute majority with 167 out of 255 seats.

Now Bedie says he intends to win the majority with Gbagbo to “avoid the consolidation of absolute power in our country” and “to reconcile the Ivorian people”.

The election could he held in the absence of Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko, after the 55-year-old travelled to France for a week for medical treatment.

RHDP executive director Adama Bictogo said he “would have like for him to be by our side, so that together he and I could have launched this campaign”.

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The opposition’s participation in the vote comes after signs of appeasement from the government, including the conditional release of several opposition figures arrested after the presidential election of October 31, 2020.

That election was easily won by Ouattara, but the opposition contested the result, saying his bid for a third term was unconstitutional.

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The violence that followed the election left 87 dead and nearly 500 injured.

The bloodshed led to all parties calling for peaceful parliamentary elections.

The campaign, which officially ends on March 4, began as Gbagbo’s supporters eagerly await his return to Ivory Coast, announced by his party for mid-March.

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Gbagbo was president during a turbulent period between 2000 and 2011, when civil warfare split the country.

He refused to accept that Ouattara beat him in a 2010 presidential poll and some 3,000 people died in post-election violence before Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011.

He was transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to be tried for crimes against humanity.

But Gbagbo was acquitted in January 2019, and has since lived in Brussels pending a possible appeal.

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The ICC has authorised Gbagbo to leave Belgium on the condition that the country he wishes to go to agrees to receive him.

Ouattara has stated several times stated he is in favour of Gbagbo’s return.

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#Newsworthy

Minister discusses return with ex president, Laurent Gbagbo.

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Gbagbo’s return is one of the big issues in talks on ending the post-election rift, gathering the government on one side

An Ivory Coast minister said Thursday he would shortly meet ousted ex-president Laurent Gbagbo to discuss his return home to help heal national divisions.

In an interview with AFP, National Reconciliation Minister Kouadio Konan Bertin said he would go to the Ghanaian capital of Accra next week.

From there, “I am going to Brussels to meet Laurent Gbagbo,” he said.

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The “conditions” for the former president’s return will be discussed, he said, without giving details.

The minister gave no date for the talks, but “the principle (of the meeting) has been reached,” and it was being carried out with the approval of President Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo’s long-standing rival.

“I am acting in his name,” he said.

Gbagbo, 75, was ousted in April 2011 after refusing to concede electoral defeat to Ouattara, triggering violence that claimed around 3,000 lives.

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He and a former right-hand man, Charles Ble Goude, were tried on charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

They were acquitted in January 2019 and remain free pending the outcome of an appeal. Gbagbo is currently in Brussels.

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The former president retains significant political clout at home, through his party and a regional stronghold.

After bitterly contested presidential elections in October, Ouattara offered an olive branch to Gbagbo, apparently believing that his predecessor could help ease tensions.

Ouattara issued him with a diplomatic passport in addition to an ordinary one, but since then, there has been no movement in Gbagbo’s plans — initially set for December — to come back.

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Bertin, who trailed a distant third in the October 31 poll, described Gbagbo as a “major figure” in Ivorian politics “whose opinion should be taken into account.”

His return should be “negotiated… in order to consolidate social peace,” he said.

Bertin also said he would go to The Hague to meet a close aide of Goude, who also wants to return.

Gbagbo’s return is one of the big issues in talks on ending the post-election rift, gathering the government on one side and opposition figures who boycotted the poll on the other.

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The opposition said that Ouattara had already served two terms in office and his third term violated the constitution — a claim Ouattara denies on the grounds that a constitutional revision reset the presidential tenure to zero.

The ICC has given Gbagbo authorisation to travel outside of Belgium, provided the host country accepts him.

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#Newsworthy

Ivory Coast: First election results released.

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According to the first results, President Ouattara obtained 98% of the votes in Korhogo the northern capital, with an 88% participation.

Guarded by a heavy police presence, Ivory Coast’s electoral commission has started to announce the preliminary result of the presidential vote.

With 2 of the four candidates boycotting, incumbent President Allassane Ouattara is expected to win, especially in the north of the country.

The area is known for being a stronghold of the president.

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Ouattara’s opponents keep claiming his bid for a third term was unconstitutional, and say the vote which, according to them, is an attempt at a “coup d’etat”, was a failure.

Through FPI’s leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan, opposition leaders called for a civil transition on Sunday, and once more stated they no longer recognized Alassane Ouattara as the Ivory Coast’s president.

The RHDP ruling party has meanwhile “warned” the opposition “against any attempt at destabilization”.


#Newsworthy…

Court clears Gbagbo for upcoming election; reject charges. [Ivory Coast]

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The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled on Friday to reject the exclusion of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo from the upcoming presidential elections of October 31 — ordering the Ivorian state to “take all necessary measures to immediately remove all obstacles” hindering his participation in the race as his lack of signature on the candidacy bid – filed by supporters on his behalf given his current exile in Belgium, saw The Ivorian Constitutional Council find it inamissible.

The Court also ordered the Ivorian state to “suspend the mention of the criminal conviction of the criminal record” of Gbagbo and had already passed a similar ruling — condemning the Ivorian state for another opponent, former rebel leader and former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, whose candidacy had also been rejected by the Constitutional Council after a court conviction.

Acquitted at a court of first instance of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, Gbagbo, 75, is awaiting a possible appeal in Belgium to be able to return to his native Côte d’Ivoire — whose authorities refuse, according to his lawyers, to issue him a passport.


#Newsworthy…

[Ivory Coast] Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters file his election candidacy.

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Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who lives in Belgium after being tried by the International Criminal Court, on Monday filed his candidacy for October’s presidential election.

Gbagbo, who was freed conditionally by the ICC after he was cleared in 2019 of crimes against humanity, had been barred by the country’s electoral commission from running.

“We have just submitted the candidacy file of our political leader, president Laurent Gbagbo, the father of democracy in Ivory Coast who we have applied to be our candidate for the presidential election,” said Georges-Armand Ouegnin, president of the pro-Gbagbo coalition called Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS).

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The October 31 election in the world’s top cocoa grower is set to be tense after years of political turbulence and civil war, and Gbagbo’s return to national politics is highly sensitive.

The country remains scarred by a conflict that erupted after the 2010 vote when Gbagbo refused to hand over power to the victor, current President Alassane Ouattara. Around 3,000 people lost their lives in several months of violence.

Gbagbo, who has not made any public statement about whether he wishes to run again, is living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against the ICC ruling.

In the meantime, he can travel, provided the country of destination accepts him.

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Struck from electoral lists
Independent Electoral Commission chief Ibrahime Coulibaly-Kuibiert has said that anyone convicted of a crime would be struck from the electoral lists for the ballot.

Gbagbo, 75, was sentenced in absentia to a 20-year term last November for the looting of the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the post-election crisis.

A supporter of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, president of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), gesture next to a banner in Abidjan on August 31, 2020, during the submission of his candidacy file to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). – Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagboa is the candidate of the opposition coalition Together Democracy Sovereignty (EDS) in the presidential election of October 2020. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)

In theory he could be jailed if he were to set foot in Ivory Coast, which makes any return a hot-button issue in the election run-up.

Ouegnin said the decision to block Gbagbo from running was political, while judicial sources said they believe his candidacy is unlikely to be validated.

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“The Constitutional Council will have the heavy responsibility before the Ivorian people and history to decide on the validity” of blocking him from the electoral roll, said Ouegnin.

He called for the release of all political prisoners and the return of political exiles including Gbagbo.

The 2020 election is already set to be tense.

Violence erupted after Ouattara’s announcement he is seeking a third term, claiming the lives of at least eight people in August.

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The constitution limits presidents to two terms, but Ouattara and his supporters argue that a 2016 constitutional tweak reset the clock.

Candidates have until midnight Monday to submit their files with the electoral commission.

Relatives of the former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, forced into self-imposed exile in France in the face of a long list of legal problems at home, are expected to submit his candidacy on Monday.

Former president Henri Konan Bedie, 86, who also contested the 2010 election, is also expected to run.


#Newsworthy…

Cote d’ivoire releases deadline for candidacy papers

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The schedule for submitting candidacy papers to run for October’s presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire ends by midnight.

At least 36 candidates are expected to be registered by the end the day for the presidential race, if all application are submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission.

Opposition leaders, Pascal Affi Nguessan of Ivorian Popular Front, and Henri Konan Bedie of the opposition Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire had earlier submitted their candidacy last Thurday.

Political Icons, Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro, are also expected to file in their candidacy despite being struff off by the electoral body and having lost their civil rights.

Outgoing President Alassane Ouattara, was the first to submit his application last Monday, with the signatures of one million citizens, a condition for eligibility to contest for the presidency:

Ivorian voters are expected to go to the polls on October 31, 2020, the constitutional deadline, to elect a new president.


#Newsworthy…