Gbagbo Floats New Party, Vows to Stay in Politics Until Death Shows Up

Former President of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, has vowed to stay in politics “until my death” after being acquitted by the International Criminal Court and returning from a decade in exile abroad.

Gbagbo, who led the West African nation from 2000 to 2011, returned to the country in June after being acquitted of war crimes charges in 2019 by a Dutch-based court for his role in a civil war sparked by his refusal to concede defeat in an election.

The formation of a new party, the African People’s Party – Cote d’Ivoire” (PPA-CI), has fueled speculation that he intends to run for president in 2025.

On Sunday, he declined to provide a definitive answer to that question.

While imprisoned in the Netherlands for more than seven years, Gbagbo lost control of the party he founded, the Ivorian Popular Front, to a former ally, but he retains a large and loyal base of supporters.

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The PPA-CI held its first congress in front of thousands of supporters crammed into a hotel ballroom in the commercial capital Abidjan over the weekend.

“I am going to practise politics until my death,” Gbagbo, 76, said to loud cheers during an hour-long speech.“There are people older than I am who practise politics.”

Simultaneously, he suggested that “the elders” retire from active electoral politics, referring to himself as well as the current president, Alassane Ouattara, who defeated him in 2010, and former President Henri Konan Bedie.

After three decades of national politics dominated by the three men, Ouattara has also called for power to be passed on to a new generation.

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Ouattara is 79 years old, and Bedie is 87.

Last year, Ouattara ran for and won a third term after the candidate he had chosen to succeed him died unexpectedly.

Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer, is West Africa’s third-largest economy and has experienced some of the world’s fastest economic growth in the last decade.

The International Criminal Court found there was insufficient evidence that Gbagbo was personally responsible for killings and other crimes committed by pro-government forces during the 2010-2011 civil war, in which more than 3,000 people died.

Gbagbo still faces a potential 20-year prison sentence that was handed down in Ivory Coast in November 2019 on charges of misappropriating funds from the regional central bank during the war.

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The government has not said whether it plans to enforce the verdict, or whether Gbagbo will be pardoned.

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