ICC-acquitted ‘general of the streets’ Blé Goudé heads Ivorian youth movement
Former Ivorian youth minister, Charles Blé Goudé, who acquitted this year of alleged crimes against humanity, was on Sunday chosen to head the Cojep youth movement in Ivory Coast, which he promised to turn into a political party.
Goudé was "elected unanimously" by the 1,250 delegates to the group's congress in the Ivorian commercial capital, Abidjan, and will serve as its president for four years, according to a statement released after the decision.
"My priority is peace and reconciliation for the sons and daughters of Ivory Coast," he told AFP by telephone from The Hague where he has been living since being acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) there earlier this year.
The former youth minister -- dubbed the “general of the streets” -- has made no secret of his political ambitions since he was acquitted for crimes against humanity in January.
In his first TV interview in The Hague since his acquittal, Goudé told FRANCE 24 his “final goal” was to “go back to my country when the time comes and I think it’s waiting for me”. When asked if he had presidential ambitions, the 47-year-old politician replied, “Yes of course,” adding, “I am not a simple and mere Ivorian citizen. You know that. I have been here in the ICC. I am one of the leaders in my country. Yes I will go back to take part in the politics of my country. I will go back as a leader with my ambition.”
Goudé spent several years behind bars at the ICC after he was charged with crimes against humanity committed during his country's violent 2010-11 post-electoral crisis, which killed around 3,000 people.
Youth movement to turn into political party
In February, Goudé and former president Laurent Gbagbo were found not guilty by the ICC on four counts of murder, rape, and other "inhumane acts".
Prosecutors had alleged the crimes were part of a wave of violence sparked when Gbagbo refused to concede an election that vote counters and observers said was won by his rival Alassane Ouattara.
The deadly violence following the election lasted until Ouattara, backed by the international community, assumed power in April 2011. Gbagbo was arrested in Abidjan with the backing of French forces.
On Saturday, Goudé, in a video conference, spoke of his wish to "construct a major party" in Ivory Coast out of the Cojep .
He had created the Congress of Young Patriots (Cojep) in 2001. The group violently backed Gbagbo's victory claim and clashed with Ouattara supporters
In 2015 it was renamed "the Panafrican Congress for Justice and Equality" but kept its old initials, vowing to fight for peace while steering clear of extremists.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)