Ivory Coast’s ex-President Gbagbo to return in June

Ivory Coast’s former President Laurent Gbagbo is set to return home this month, weeks after his acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity was upheld by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He had been on trial in The Hague with his ally and former youth leader Charles Blé Goudé, who was also acquitted.

Assoa Adou, the secretary general of Mr Gbagbo’s party, says the former leader intends to return on 17 June.

In early April, President Alassane Ouattara said Mr Gbagbo could go back freely to Ivory Coast in the wake of a reconciliation process.

Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in absentia for misappropriating funds.

A reconciliation ministry, headed by former opposition candidate Kouadio Konan Bertin, was set up just after elections at the end of October last year.

Since then, Mr Gbagbo has been negotiating with the authorities, though no specific return date has been set.

Violence erupted in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, after Mr Gbagbo refused to accept that he had lost a disputed election run-off to Mr Ouattara in 2010.

The five months of violence that followed were described as some of the most brutal clashes the country had ever seen.

Recently, Adama Bictogo, the deputy parliamentary speaker and executive secretary of Mr Ouattara’s RHDP party, said that Mr Gbagbo should return without a triumphant welcome – in respect for the victims of the violence.

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