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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara pardoned former president Laurent Gbagbo, who faced a 20-year jail term after refusing to recognize his opponent’s 2010 electoral victory and igniting a civil war, in an effort to promote reconciliation in the country, France24 reported
Ouattara said Saturday the decision is in “the interests of strengthening social cohesion,” as he also ordered the release of two close associates of Gbagbo, former navy chief Vagba Faussignaux and a police commander, Jean-Noel Abehi, both imprisoned for their role in the post-election unrest.
The president also unfroze Gbagbo’s bank accounts and restored his presidential pension.
One of the most controversial leaders in Ivory Coast’s modern history, Gbagbo led the country from 2000 until 2010 when both he and Ouattara claimed victory in the 2010 presidential election, leading to a brief but brutal civil war that killed an estimated 3,000 people, VOA reported.
In early 2011, Gbagbo was arrested by pro-Ouattara troops, who extradited him to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity. After an eight-year proceeding, Gbagbo was acquitted. He was, however, convicted in absentia of embezzling funds from the Ivorian central bank during the 2010-2011 unrest.
He returned to Ivory Coast in 2021 at Ouattara’s invitation and launched a new political party.
Meanwhile, even though Ivory Coast has largely remained stable in the past decade, violence erupted in late 2020 after Ouattara said that he would run for a third term as president, a move that critics said violated term limits in the Ivorian constitution. The opposition boycotted the election, in 2020, and Ouattara was officially re-elected with ninety-five percent of the vote.