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Laurent Gbagbo granted passport, will return to Ivory Coast this month

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JERRY LAMPEN/AFP -

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast has finally issued passports to former president Laurent Gbagbo, which will allow him to return from exile in Belgium.

Gbagbo has been based in Belgium since he was acquitted on war crime charges last year at the International Criminal Court.

With his documents in hand, his lawyer says he's planning to return to the Ivory Coast this month.

Gbagbo has been a vocal critic of President Alassane Ouattara, who was recently elected for a controversial third term, which sparked deadly clashes that killed 85 people.

He had hoped to run against him in the October 31 vote but was barred from running after authorities cited a criminal conviction for misappropriating funds from the central bank.

Gbagbo also had no passport to return from Europe.

He faced trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity and war crimes related to the civil war, which saw some 3,000 killed. The prosecution is appealing against his acquittal.

It is not clear what he will do once he gets home, nor what the reaction will be.

Though he will undoubtedly be welcomed by his supporters.