Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo says he plans to get involved in politics until the day of his death
ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire – Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo told supporters on Sunday that he would be involved in politics until his death, detailing his ambitions publicly for the first time since his acquittal of the crimes charges of war.
The 76-year-old ex-president spoke at a weekend rally organized for the new political party he launched: the African People’s Party of Côte d’Ivoire, also known by its French acronym , PPA-CI.
Gbagbo returned to Côte d’Ivoire in June after more than a decade abroad, having spent the last two years awaiting prosecutors’ appeal against his acquittal at the International Criminal Court in the context of the post-election crisis 2010-2011 in this West African country.
Since his arrival, Gbagbo has made public appearances but limited his comments on politics, making Sunday’s comments his most direct comments yet on his future plans.
“I got out of jail,” he told around 1,600 supporters. “I’m here and we’ll get back on track together.”
“I will be in politics until I die,” he added. “It is I and I alone who will decide in what form this will be done.”
Gbagbo ruled Côte d’Ivoire from 2000 to 2010, then refused to concede defeat to his opponent Alassane Ouattara. Fighting between their supporters brought Côte d’Ivoire back to the brink of civil war, killing at least 3,000.
Ouattara finally prevailed after Gbagbo’s arrest in his underground bunker and his extradition to The Hague. Ouattara has been president since then, stoking controversy last October when he won a third term after previously declaring he would only serve two terms.
Critics of Gbagbo, however, argue that he should never have been greeted by a statesman upon his return. They say that even though he has been acquitted by the International Criminal Court, he should still be held accountable in Côte d’Ivoire for his role in stoking the violence.
Gbagbo’s founding of the new political party marks a definitive break in ties with the Ivorian Popular Front party, which he founded in the 1980s. The party split into two factions as Gbagbo awaited trial, including one. directed by Pascal Affi N’Guessan.
The two separated and Gbagbo announced in August the formation of a new political party.
Arrested in 2011, Gbagbo spent eight years awaiting trial for war crimes. A judge acquitted him in 2019, saying prosecutors had failed to prove their case. The verdict was appealed but was confirmed at the end of March, paving the way for Gbagbo to leave Belgium, where he had spent the past two years.