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Ouattara Will Meet With Former President And Opponent Gbagbo Of The Ivory Coast

The encounter will be the first between the two men’s supporters since a deadly post-election clash ten years ago.
President Alassane Ouattara of the Ivory Coast will see his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, for the first time in ten years, after forces loyal to him fought a brutal post-election conflict.
After winning a historic case at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Gbagbo returned home last month.
In a 2010 presidential election, the 76-year-old, who was elected president in 2000, rejected Ouattara’s victory.
More than 3,000 people were killed in months of combat between forces loyal to the two leaders until Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face allegations of crimes against humanity, which he was later convicted of.
Observers will be watching Tuesday’s meeting for signs that the two former adversaries have patched up their differences, raising expectations for national reconciliation.
Gbagbo’s spokesman, Justin Katinan Kone, cautioned the public not to “over-interpret” the meeting, which will be held at the presidential palace.
“This is a courtesy call on his father…”
“All the better if it helps to de-escalate the political situation,” he remarked.
On Monday, Franck Anderson Kouassi, a spokesman for Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party, told the AFP news agency that Gbagbo is “in a mood of openness, discussion, and reconciliation.”
“Meeting President Ouattara aligns perfectly with our viewpoint.” “Dialogue in our country…
intention continue because that is the administration’s will,” said Amadou Coulibaly, a government spokesman.
Ouattara, 79, scored a resounding victory in the October 31 elections, though the vote was tainted by an opposition boycott.
After Ouattara’s contentious campaign for a third term, scores of people were killed in skirmishes with police in the run-up to the elections.
Due of the upheaval, Ouattara has formally welcomed Gbagbo’s return in the hopes of reducing tensions.
Yet it’s unclear whether Gbagbo will keep to the statesman’s script or opt for a more active political role that might put Ouattara under pressure.
Following Ivory Coast’s independence from France in 1960, Gbagbo rose to prominence as a left-wing campaigner who helped dismantle the country’s one-party system.
His years in power were marred by revolt, civil war, national divisions, and elections that were repeatedly postponed, yet he still has a sizable grassroots following.
His supporters present him as a protector for the disadvantaged and poor.
The long-awaited meeting, according to analyst Rodrigue Kone, “won’t erase their significant disagreements, but it moves their relationship forward.”
“The meeting is seen by Ouattara’s side as a recognition by Gbagbo of Ouattara’s legitimacy – something that hasn’t been transmitted in such a visible and formal manner previously,” he said.
“It’s quite symbolic,” Ouattara indicated in April, when he said Gbagbo was free to return to Ivory Coast.
He did not say whether Gbagbo had been released from a 20-year term imposed in his absence by an Ivorian court for misappropriating cash from the regional central bank.
Officials have suggested that this sentence may be commuted.
For the first time in ten years, Gbagbo’s FPI ran candidates in parliamentary elections earlier this year.
Its candidates campaigned on a joint list with the Henri Konan Bedies Democratic Party for Ivory Coast, which backed Ouattara in the 2010 and 2015 elections.
Experts are also watching how Ouattara, Gbagbo, and Bedie, the three men who have dominated the political stage for decades, interact with one another.
Gbagbo and Bedie, who were previously enemies, said on July 11 that they were working together to achieve “final and sustainable peace.”

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