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Ivory Coast ex-leader Gbagbo’s supporters to file his election candidacy despite court decision

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands February 6, 2020, Netherlands February 6, 2020.
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands February 6, 2020, Netherlands February 6, 2020. © Jerry Lampen, Reuters
3 min

Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who lives in exile in Brussels after losing a civil war in 2011, said Wednesday that they would file a candidacy in his name for October's election. The announcement comes a day after an Ivorian court confirmed the decision to strike off the ex-leader from the electoral list due to a 20-year prison sentence.

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A pro-Gbagbo coalition called Together for Democracy and Sovereignty said in a statement "it will submit president Laurent Gbagbo's candidacy, in line with scheduled procedures".

But a day earlier, a court in Ivory Coast confirmed the decision of the country's electoral commission to strike off Gbagbo from the electoral list, his lawyer told AFP Tuesday. "It's a definitive no," Claude Mentenon told AFP, adding that there was no further legal recourse inside Ivory Coast.

Election officials had already rejected appeals by Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro to be allowed to compete in the October 31 presidential election, in which the incumbent Alassane Ouattara is running for re-election.

Any candidate convicted of crime automatically struck from list

President of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), Ibrahime Coulibaly-Kuibiert, said back in August, when the revised electoral list was revealed, that anyone convicted of a crime would be struck from the list of candidates.

Four contenders in all were barred from standing in the election on those grounds.

The world's top cocoa grower remains scarred by a brief civil war that erupted after 2010 elections, when Gbagbo, then president, refused to cede to the victor, Ouattara. Months of ensuing violence claimed around 3,000 lives.

Gbagbo, who is currently living in Belgium, was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) after he was cleared in 2019 of crimes against humanity. The prosecution has appealed that ruling.

But he was sentenced in absentia to a 20-year term last November for the "looting" of the local branch of the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO) during the post-election crisis.

In theory at least, he could be jailed on his return, which makes any return to Ivory Coast a sensitive political issue three months before the presidential election.

The 2020 presidential elections were already set to be tense, after years of political turbulence.

Violence that followed Ouattara's announcement that he is seeking a third term has claimed at least eight lives in August.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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