As rivals Ouattara & Gbagbo meet, is Ivory Coast on a path towards reconciliation?

FRANCE 24 EnglishJul 28, 2021
#IvoryCoast President Alassane #Ouattara offered a hearty welcome to his predecessor Laurent #Gbagbo on Tuesday as the rivals met for the first time since the West African country’s deadly 2010-11 conflict, saying the turmoil was “behind us.” In the last months of his stormy rule from 2000 to 2011, Gbagbo rejected defeat by Ouattara in a presidential ballot. The ensuing conflict claimed more than 3,000 lives. After he was ousted, Gbagbo was flown to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity, of which he was eventually acquitted.

Maxime Ricard, West Africa Researcher for France’s Institute for Strategic Research (IRSEM), lauds the historic moment for this former French colony. Now while Mr. Ricard remains cautiously optimistic about the former rivals’ efforts to ease the political atmosphere, he reminds us that, over the long term, the real quest for peace and national rapprochement depends on the sincerity of their motives: “The next presidential election will be in four years… so the moment is ripe to have this national dialogue, to talk about transitional justice, reparations for victims.” Mr. Ricard stresses that now is the time for Ivory Coast’s political heavyweights to show that they are truly sincere in their efforts toward genuine reconciliation. “Right now is the time for these protagonists to start something that has not happened in Côte d’Ivoire since the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011.” Yet Mr. Ricard remains highly skeptical that there will be an inclusive process that reaches out to members of the opposition, including former president Henri Konan Bédié: “There is a real need for a sincere dialogue between the different political parties who acknowledge their responsibilities, but obviously it’s very unlikely.”

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