Ivory Coast’s former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, called for President Alassane Ouattara to grant her husband amnesty and restore his civic rights ahead of Oct. 31 presidential polls.
“Whether Laurent Gbagbo runs in the presidential election or not, let him at least be eligible,” Gbagbo, who was herself pardoned in 2018, alongside about 300 other prisoners accused of crimes during the post-election conflict of 2010, told journalists Tuesday in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
The former president ought to be granted a diplomatic passport and all prisoners linked to that crisis should be pardoned for the sake of the “reconciliation and stability in a nation which has suffered so much and no longer wants to suffer,” she said.
Former President Laurent Gbagbo triggered a five-month conflict when he refused to concede defeat to Ouattara in 2010 elections. That civil war left more than 3,000 people dead or missing and crippled the economy of the world’s top cocoa producer. Ouattara eventually assumed the presidency in May 2011.
An Ivorian court handed Gbagbo a 20-year prison sentence last year after finding him guilty of looting a local branch of the Central Bank of the West African States during the crisis — he has denied wrongdoing. Gbagbo lives in Belgium after being acquitted by the Hague’s International Criminal Court of charges linked to the post-electoral conflict.
Ouattara, who was re-elected in 2015, rescinded his decision not to seek a third term last week, when he accepted the nomination of the ruling Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace. The 78-year-old economist had backed the candidacy of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, but his sudden death of heart problems in July upended that plan.
Ouattara’s third-term bid is unconstitutional, she said. “His candidacy cannot be accepted. That’s the way it should be and there is nothing more to add.”