Abidjan — "The president of Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara will receive his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo on July 27 at the presidential palace", declared the spokesman of the Ivorian government Amadou Coulibaly, in a press conference broadcast by several television channels of the continent. "It is a strong gesture that these two men, fierce enemies of yesterday, are sending not only to the national community, but also to the international community", comments to Fides Fr. Donald Zagore, Ivorian priest of the Society for African Missions. "The announcement was received with great emotion, it is an important step towards the reconciliation so desired by the Ivorian people who thirst for reconciliation".
However, the missionary explains, we must be cautious in view of the country's tragic history. "It is certainly an important step, but far from definitively sealing the reconciliation. The entire population is confident that these great actors in Ivorian political life will go further, embracing together the values that constitute true and authentic reconciliation. The path towards the democratization of our country remains a dangerous and difficult path". "On Wednesday, July 21, 2021, the Ivorian population demonstrated in a simple peaceful march to say no to the high cost of living - concludes Zagore - to invite the authorities to investigate the suffering of a people increasingly suffocated in their misery. A crisis resulting from the excessive inflation of the prices of basic necessities which makes the life of the populations even more precarious". On July 10, Gbagbo met with another former president and former rival, Henri Konan Bédié, with whom they expressed their desire to launch 'a reconciliation project' and underlined 'the urgency to work for the return of a definitive and lasting peace in Ivory Coast'.
The meeting with Ouattara will be the first since the 2010 presidential elections, followed by post-election violence over controversial results.
Gbagbo, the country's president since 2000, was arrested in April 2011 after months of violence sparked by his refusal to recognize Ouattara as the winner. The former president returned to his country in June, after his acquittal before the International Criminal Court (see Agenzia Fides 11/6/2021).