Laurent Gbagbo returned to Côte d’Ivoire as planned this afternoon. The former head of state was welcomed at the Presidential Pavilion at Abidjan airport by several activists and friends. Among those who came to welcome him, Simone Gbagbo.
It was at 4.15pm local time that the plane departing from Brussels with former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Nadiana Bamba on board landed on the tarmac of Abidjan’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny airport. After getting off the plane, the former head of state, with part of his face hidden behind an anti-Covid-19 mask, headed for the presidential pavilion where friends and activists were waiting for him to meet the crowd. Among those who came to welcome him was his wife, Simone Gbagbo, who, despite all the talk, finally made the trip to the airport.
A few hours before the plane carrying the former president landed, several dozen supporters had tried to reach the airport. But they were dispersed by the police deployed for the occasion. From the airport, Laurent Gbagbo must go to his campaign headquarters for the 2010 presidential election, located in the Attoban district.
This long-awaited return by supporters of the former president sounds like a big step in the reconciliation process underway for several months in Côte d’Ivoire where the memory of the killings of the post-election crisis 2010-2011 is still vivid. And to show his goodwill, President Ouattara has reserved the Presidential Pavilion for his ex-rival. But no direct representative of the Ivorian President was seen among those who went to welcome Laurent Gbagbo.
Now, will they start asking the real questions? When will there be a Gbagbo-Ouattara meeting? What will the two men say to each other? Will Laurent Gbagbo put on his old political boots and return to the arena? Many questions to which we will undoubtedly have answers in the coming days.