” Cordial and fraternal meeting with my young brother Laurent Gbagbo. We will work to build confidence, for the benefit of our country Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara tweeted Tuesday July 27 after having received his longtime enemy, former President Laurent Gbagbo. Hugs, smiles, familiarity, the first welcoming the second saying to him in front of the cameras, ” How are you Laurent? Happy to see you », Before heading towards the presidential palace, ostensibly holding hands, as if nothing had happened.
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They came out thirty minutes later, all in the “fraternal” and “relaxed” joy of having met. Laurent Gbagbo, during the exchange, pleaded for the release of political prisoners, while Alassane Ouattara insisted that, despite the differences of the past, “What matters is the Ivory Coast, it is peace for our country” ; and to add, all smiles: “We have agreed to meet again from time to time. It is important to restore confidence, and that Ivorians reconcile and trust each other as well. “
Twenty years of relentless struggle
This staging and these images intend to erase more than twenty years of bitter and extremely violent struggle between the two men to keep or conquer power in Côte d’Ivoire. It is difficult to forget, behind the smiles and the hugs, the war of the 2000s, which led to the partition of the country into two hostile zones, at the cost of several hundred lives. And, above all, the civil war that followed the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011, during which thousands of people perished, including women and children.
” We believe that reconciliation cannot be summed up in the meeting of two citizens, we need truth, justice ”, reacted Issiaka Diaby, president of the Collective of victims of Côte d’Ivoire, Tuesday, July 27. Reconciliation, in fact, never took place during the first two terms of office carried out by Alassane Ouattara, despite the commitment to make it the main axis of his presidency, formulated during an interview with The cross, in April 2011.
A request from the sponsors of Alassane Ouattara
“The sequence we have just witnessed is governed by a commitment that Alassane Ouattara made to his main sponsors, in the first place France and the European Union, when he presented himself for a third term. Paris and the EU, disappointed by his problematic candidacy, demanded that he visibly embark on the path of reconciliation in exchange for their support », Says an observer of the Ivorian game.
According to our information, this question was clearly addressed by Emmanuel Macron during the tense lunch between the two men, at the Elysee Palace, on September 4, 2020: in response to the serious concerns expressed by the French president, Alassane Ouattara would have said that once re-elected, he would be reconciled with his two main adversaries, Henri Konan Bédié, on the one hand, and Laurent Gbagbo on the other hand, assuring that he would promote his return to the country.
Don’t be naive
Is this gesture between the two men promising? The whole history of Côte d’Ivoire does not plead in this direction. This is not the first time that the two men have “reconciled”, and their sincerity is more than doubtful. If Alassane Ouattara seems to have responded to a requirement of his support, Laurent Gbagbo, him, is known for his great ability to ” to roll his interlocutors in the flour “: Hence his nickname of” baker “when he was president of Côte d’Ivoire.
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Since returning to Abidjan on June 17, Laurent Gbagbo has multiplied his actions that are not exactly those of a man who buried the political hatchet. Witness, on July 10 and 11, his spectacular rapprochement with former President Henri Konan Bédié, a figure of the opposition since his break with Alassane Ouattara, three years ago.