Côte d’Ivoire’s Bedie Vows To Let Political Exiles Return If Elected President

The presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA), Henri Konan Bedie, has promised to let political exiles, including former President Laurent Gbagbo, return home if he wins the elections in October.

Bedie, who served as president from 1993-1999 before being ousted in a coup, made the promise on Saturday after being formally inaugurated as the PDCI-RDA choice candidate in the election.

The 86-year-old said: “I commit to taking concrete and immediate measures for the return of all the exiles.”

“Once elected, I pledge to form a broad-based government,” he added.

The octogenarian also promised to reform the Ivorien police force.

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“Let us be determined because victory in the election is within our grasp,” he said.

Bedie is considered President Alassane Ouattara’s main challenger in the Oct. 31 vote.

Ouattara is seeking a third term despite his opponents insisting he would be violating constitutional term limits.

Gbagbo was arrested at the end of a brief civil unrest sparked by his refusal to accept defeat to Ouattara in the 2010 election. He has faced trial for alleged crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

He was acquitted last year and supporters submitted paperwork on his behalf to stand in the election, but he has so far been unable to secure the right document to travel back to Ivory Coast from Belgium, where he currently resides.

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