Former Ivory Coast presidents and long-term political rivals, Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié, in a key step towards healing the country’s long-running political crisis reunited on Saturday to oppose the current head of state, Allasane Ouattara.
Gbagbo, 76, Bedie, 87, and Alassane Ouattara, 79, have dominated the country’s political scene for decades, often plunging into rivalries or forging alliances.
Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crime against humanity resulting from the violence which claimed some 3,000 lives.
Now free, Gbagbo who returned to Ivory Coast from Brussels on June 17 after being acquitted at the ICC said his meeting with Bédié is “a mark of reconciliation and acknowledgement”.
Gbagbo had been accused of being behind the post-election violence that rocked the country when he refused to step down from power after the 2010 election.
During the poll, Bédié, teamed up with Ouattara to then have his Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) join the opposition in 2018. They subsequently fell out and he (Bédié) joined the opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) in March this year.
The duo said the “urgent need to work for a return to a definitive and durable peace in Ivory Coast,” is the reason they have decided to unite.