Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo Launches New Political Party

Ivorian former President Laurent Gbagbo launched a new political party on Saturday, formally breaking ties with those who ran his former party while he spent years facing war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.

His spokesman, Justin Kone Katinan disclosed ahead of the launch. “This is the grand return of Laurent Gbagbo to the political scene,”

Gbagbo will oversee the new party’s congress on Saturday and Sunday as he seeks to “reunite the left” and use the occasion as a springboard to the 2025 presidential election.

Laurent Gbagbo, with a decade-long exile behind him, this weekend embarks on a path he hopes will return him to Ivory Coast’s presidency at the helm of a new party.

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On Saturday, Gbagbo greeted a crowd of more than 1,600 delegates in Abidjan, many holding small flags bearing his image. The ex-president is expected to address his supporters on Sunday, organizers said.

The 76-year-old, whose 2000-2011 rule was marked by turbulence and division in the world’s biggest cocoa producer, has been very visible since returning to his homeland on June 17.

He was removed from office in April 2011 after a short civil war that claimed 3,000 lives, sparked by his refusal to accept electoral defeat by current President Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo was then flown to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity resulting from the conflict but eventually acquitted.

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The executive director of the ruling party, Adama Bictogo at the launch said “For us, coming to witness the birth of a new party led by President Laurent Gbagbo reinforces the existing democratic vitality and it will help with the advancement of democracy,”

The proposed name of Gbagbo’s new party is the African People’s Party Ivory Coast, shortened to its French acronym, PPA-CI. The mooted party logo comprises two intertwined hands clasping a map of Africa with the accent on a Pan-African dimension.

The new party hopes to reshape domestic debate in a country where the opposition has become increasingly hollowed out over the past decade

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