Ivory Coast: Former President Laurent Gbagbo receives pardon 

It appears that this is a season of mending political fences in West African French-speaking countries, as Ivory Coast’s president Alasanne Ouattara pardoned his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo. 

Where else did such happen? 

This is coming after former president Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso apologized to the family of his predecessor and slain friend, Thomas Sankara. Honouring an invitation by the country’s current leader last month, Campaoré visited Burkina Faso – his first visit since leaving office in 2014 – and begged for forgiveness from the country’s citizens, especially the family of his late predecessor who was killed in a coup d’état in 1987. 

Why was Gbagbo pardoned? 

In a statement to mark the country’s 62nd independence anniversary on Saturday, Ouattara said the pardon was aimed at enhancing social cohesion. Gbagbo had received a 20-year sentence for his role in the violence that rocked the country when he refused to leave office after his defeat in the 2011 election. In addition to the pardon, Ouattara ordered the unfreezing of Gbagbo’s bank accounts and the payment of his life annuity. 

Following his arrest after about 3000 deaths that resulted from post-election violence in 2011, Gbagbo was tried for alleged war crimes but was acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). After his acquittal at the ICC, Gbagbo was handed a 20-year sentence for the robbery of funds at the Abidjan Central Bank, which occurred after the election. He has always denied the allegations. 

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