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’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.