Ten years after the case was opened, the final decision was given at last, and it is going to make some happy people. The court of appeal of the International Criminal Court confirmed Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal last Wednesday and thus dismisses all the charges against the former president of Ivory Coast (2000-2010) and Charles Blé Goudé.
The case dates back to 2010-2011: Gbagbo was charged with war crime and crime against humanity after the atrocities that followed Alassane Ouattara’s election as a president at the head of the country. Gbagbo, outgoing president in those times, had refused to admit his defeat, and Ivory Coast became the theater of a civil war between Ouattara’s partisans and Gbagbo’s supporters. Compelled to surrender after having been put under arrest by the military forces of the current Ivorian president, Gbagbo was later accused of being responsible for the 3000 dead that paid a high price for that election.
A first acquittal was pronounced in 2019, but the State Prosecutor lodged an appeal, considering that there was a lack of evidence in that case and that both men, Gbagbo and Blé Goudé, could not be set free as simply as that. Two years later, the case is now closed and the former president, who has been living in Belgium so far, is now free to go back to his homeland.
There is no real suspense about Gbagbo’s will to take a plane for Ivory Coast. The question is about his political ambitions. At 75 years old, the politician is still appreciated and supported by a big part of the Ivorian population, and a return in the political arena would surely be one more hardship for a country that lost two prime ministers over the last two years.