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Ivorians rejoice as Gbagbo is set to land in Abidjan

People hold a banner, bearing the face of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, in Yopougon, a popular district of Abidjan, on June 17, 2021.   -  
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SIA KAMBOU/AFP or licensors

Ivory Coast

Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo came to show their support to their "father", their "prophet", as they call him.

On Thursday, Gbagbo checked in at Belgium's main airport, as he flies back to Abidjan.

After 10 years of legal procedures, the International Criminal Court confirmed their "Not Guilty" verdict in the case related to the 2011 post-electoral violence, allowing the former president to head back to his country.

"We've been by President Gbagbo's side for 10 years, since he was in The Hague. This is an opportunity, to know that he is going to Abidjan, we could not miss this opportunity. It was important for us to be there to say goodbye," said Serge Kassy, a pro-Gbagbo supporter.

Habiba Toure, a lawyer for Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo, who is expected to return to his native country after a 10-year absence, says he is "happy" and "excited about the idea of being able to return home."

Toure added: "He wants to play his part in trying to reconcile Ivorians."

Gbagbo's acquittal and scheduled return has galvanizing his supporters, who believe his prosecution was politically motivated. They've begun preparations to welcome their former leader.

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