Ex-president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, returns after 10 years of arrest

Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo returned home to Abidjan on Thursday, nearly a decade after he was ousted from power and sent to The Hague to face war crimes charges of which he was later acquitted. 

Laurent Gbagbo

Laurent Gbagbo’s homecoming is viewed as a key test of stability in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer and a strategically important country in Francophone West Africa.

Gbagbo’s return was enabled by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, a longtime political rival, who accepted the homecoming plan ‘in the spirit of reconciliation’.

Earlier this year, the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) upheld an earlier acquittal of war crimes and crimes against humanity charges during Ivory Coast’s 2010-2011 post-electoral violence that saw more than 3,000 people killed.

Details of the 76-year-old former leader’s future plans have not been released. Gbagbo faces an outstanding 20-year prison sentence handed by an Ivorian court over misappropriation of funds.