The following report highlights a few reactions from Ivorians after President Alassane Ouattara met with former president Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan on 27 July. Following the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis that left more than 3,000 deaths, Gbagbo was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes and sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC). On 31 March, the ICC acquitted him after 10 years in jail and he returned to Cote d’Ivoire on 17 June. The 27 July meeting was the first one between the two men. They both stressed the importance of reconciliation and pledged to work together to move the country forward. Observers welcomed the move but a few questions remain.
Ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP)
- An official of the RHDP directorate said that the meeting will ease tension in towns and villages.
Hardline Wing of the Opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI)
- According to a member of the hardline wing of the FPI known as GOR, Gbagbo’s visit gave a legitimacy to Ouattara’s presidency and enabled Gbagbo to urge Ouattara to free the political prisoners (199 people according to unofficial figures). He also termed the meeting as the recognition of Gbagbo’s “innocence” by Ouattara and the international community.
- A member of the official branch of the opposition FPI, led by Pascal Affi N’guessan, expressed hope that Ouattara frees the political prisoners as requested by Gbagbo.
- A member of the opposition Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) hoped that the “smiles and laughter” from Ouattara and Gbagbo in front of the cameras were “sincere”.
- According to a political analyst, the reconciliation challenge lies on the 2025 presidential election. He urged Ivorian political stakeholders to strive to organize violence-free and transparent elections in 2025.
- Another political analyst called for a change in Cote d’Ivoire political system. He said that the country needs a parliamentary system to avoid electoral fraud and a post-election crisis.
- Other observers wondered whether justice would prevail for victims of both camps.