Steps at reconciliation?

Côte d’Ivoire: Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo to meet on 27 July

By Baudelaire Mieu, Benjamin Roger

Posted on July 23, 2021 13:30

Firefox_Screenshot_2021-07-23T08-38-02.369Z © Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara. Montage JA: SIA KAMBOU/AFP; DIRCOM/PR
Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara. Montage JA: SIA KAMBOU/AFP; DIRCOM/PR

Two adversaries – President Alassane Ouattara and former president Laurent Gbagbo – will meet on 27 July, 10 years after the war that pitted them against each other and brought Côte d’Ivoire to its knees.

The Ivorian President made this announcement during the council of ministers’ assembly on 21 July. This meeting was then officially announced by Amadou Coulibaly, the minister of communication and government spokesman.

He stated that Ouattara and Gbagbo “had been in contact” over the past few days to prepare for the symbolic meeting, which is supposed to embody their reconciliation, 10 years after the post-election crisis that tore the country apart and left more than 3,000 dead.

Telephone conversation

Ouattara had already informed his inner circle, before making an announcement to his ministers, that he was planning to organise the meeting, which will be held at the presidential palace.

According to our information, Ouattara and Gbagbo discussed the event’s details over the phone last week. Upon his return to Côte d’Ivoire on 17 June, Gbagbo had sent a message to the Ivorian head of state, informing him that he wanted to meet.

According to our sources, Gbagbo wanted to thank Ouattara for facilitating his return to the country and discuss issues related to the ongoing reconciliation process.

Ouattara’s entourage talked up the Ivorian President’s busy schedule to demonstrate how much time has been taken to organise the meeting.

However, according to our sources, the Ivorian presidency did not appreciate the fact that Gbagbo refused to stop over at the Pavillon d’Honneur at Félix Houphouët-Boigny airport. Several of the former Ivorian president’s public statements have also caused tension within the palace.

At the centre of the political scene

Since his return to Côte d’Ivoire, Gbagbo has indeed been at the centre of the Ivorian political scene. While his supporters readily insist that he wants to work towards national reconciliation, the former president has often been on the offensive and has reiterated, on several occasions, his desire to play a political role.

On 10 and 11 July, the founder of the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) was received by his new ally Henri Konan Bédié – leader of the Parti Démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) – at Bédié’s stronghold in Daoukro. During this highly publicised meeting, the two former heads of state cemented their alliance against Ouattara – their common rival.

“We can decide to live as if we have no constitution. But if we have a constitution, we must fight to uphold it. We must respect the texts,” said Gbagbo, referring to Ouattara’s disputed third term, for which he was elected on 31 October 2020. “Is Laurent Gbagbo meeting with Henri Konan Bédié for another reason besides politics? Let’s just assume it’s about politics,” he said.

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