Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo left Brussels on Thursday to return to his country on a commercial flight after a ten-year absence.
Gbagbo left the country in humiliation in 2011, after his refusal to accept electoral defeat sparked a conflict that ended in his arrest and transfer to The Hague.
The 76-year-old's homecoming will be a key test of stability in Ivory Coast, the world's biggest cocoa producer and the wealthiest country in francophone West Africa.
Hello Ruth and welcome, will Laurent Gbagbo be welcomed with open arms?
Laurent Gbagbo will be welcomed by his FPI supporters who are very enthusiastic to see him again after 10 years of absence.
Nevertheless, they remain victims of all the crisis caused by his departure. Most of them feel that justice has not been done to them.
“I think that when we look at the current political climate in Côte d'Ivoire, we can see that President Alassane Ouattara is trying to ease the tensions that have grown in recent years. He has demonstrated this by authorizing the return of Laurent Gbagbo to the country with the status of the former president,” Ruth Lago, Africanews journalist noted.
There is also evidence of the birth of a new era of reconciliation for Côte d'Ivoire.
The two leaders seem ready to look beyond their differences to try to reconcile the country.
Gbagbo’s arrival generates mixed opinions but regarding his political future, and there are signs that he will want to relaunch his career.
“It is still early to say that he wants to join the Ivorian political scene. But if he wants to do so, no one can stop him because the age limit for claiming power was reviewed in 2016 by Alassane Ouattara. Now, because of his expertise, Ivorians want to see him as an advisor who will take on the role of a peacemaker between the two opposing parties in Côte d'Ivoire, but also between the north and south of the country. This is because of the various ethnic conflicts that have divided the country for years. He is expected to rebuild his party, the Front Populaire Ivoirien, which has been very divided since his departure. He is also expected to contend for leadership if the FPI wishes to participate in the next elections,” Lago added.