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Côte d'Ivoire

The political class makes up with itself

After a decade of hesitation, President Ouattara backs reconciliation with everyone – except his former premier

Former First lady Simone Ehivet Gbagbo, ex-wife of former President Laurent Gbagbo, is asking for 'forgiveness from the whole nation and from all those who suffered, who lost parents, jobs and were forced into exile,' as a result of political violence in 2002 and 2010. Last year, her former husband Laurent made his peace with his bitter rival and Côte d'Ivoire's President Alassane Ouattara.

Simone Gbagbo made her breakthrough speech at a rally in Bouaké on 30 April in front of thousands of activists and supporters of her party, the Mouvement des générations capables (MGC) as well as representatives of the ruling Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la démocratie et la paix (RHDP), and the main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire-African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA).

Days earlier, Pascal Affi N'Guessan, a former ally Laurent Gbagbo and leader of the opposition Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) founded by the Gbagbos, struck a 'partnership' deal with President Alassane Ouattara (AC Vol 62 No 13, Old foes re-enter the ring). N'Guessan said that the deal signed with Ouattara's RHDP on Tuesday was not 'an electoral agreement'.

N'Guessan was arrested in November 2020, detained for almost two months and prosecuted with other opponents for 'conspiracy against state authority' and insurrection.

Missing from the septuagenarian politicians making peace is former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, in exile and sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in June 2021 in connection with an attempted insurrection against his former ally Ouattara in 2019. Two years earlier Soro had announced he was running for the presidency.

Should Soro be pardoned and allowed to return to Côte d'Ivoire, it would further shake-up the political scene. Laurent Gbagbo, former president and deadly foe of Ouattara, welcomes the idea arguing that Soro should have the 'opportunity to participate in the process of national reconciliation.'

For the moment there is little detail on what the spirit of reconciliation means in practical terms, ahead of municipal elections scheduled for September. Simone Gbagbo has called for them to be postponed because they will not be free and fair under present conditions.

The polls would be the first test of Simone Gbagbo's MGC which was formed last August (AC Vol 63 No 24, Rebel returns home).

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