Gbagbo Ally Charles Ble Goude Returns to Ivory Coast from Exile

Gbagbo Ally Charles Ble Goude Returns to Ivory Coast from Exile (News Central TV)

A former militia leader, Charles Ble Goude, who was acquitted of crimes against humanity during Ivory Coast’s civil war, returned from exile on Saturday as politicians sought to reconcile after years of instability and conflict.

Hundreds of supporters wearing clothes printed with Ble Goude’s image cheered and danced in the Yopougon suburb of Abidjan to welcome him home after eight years.

Ble Goude’s return following his acquittal by the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2019 is part of a wider reconciliation between political blocs in Ivory Coast, that President Alassane Ouattara hopes will lessen political tension ahead of the 2025 polls.

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“I dreamed of this moment from my prison cell,” Ble Goude told the crowd that stood in the pouring rain. “You will accompany me in this peace process that our country needs.”

Gbagbo Ally Charles Ble Goude Returns to Ivory Coast from Exile (News Central TV)
Former militia leader, Charles Ble Goude

The country has been enmeshed in post-civil war strains that greeted a 2010 election, after which former president Laurent Gbagbo failed to accept defeat by Ouattara.

At least 20 people died with many others left wounded in clashes when Ouattara decided to run again in 2020 elections.

Gbagbo, who was ousted during the civil war and was also acquitted of war crimes in The Hague, returned home last year after a decade in exile.

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Ble Goude, leader of the infamous Young Patriots organisation during Gbagbo’s presidency, was accused of inciting attacks on civilians and United Nations soldiers.

He was handed 20 years in prison, in absentia by a court in Abidjan in 2019 for his role in the civil war. Ble Goude has said he expects those charges to be dropped once he returns.


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