Several thousand people gave a triumphant welcome to former President Laurent Gbagbo on Sunday (June 27) in his native village of Mama (center-west of Côte d’Ivoire), ten days after his return to Abidjan following his acquittal. final by international justice.
Under the howls of joy, the “Cheers! “ and with his hands raised making the V for victory, Laurent Gbagbo arrived in Mama at nightfall from Abidjan, which he had left by road at midday.
As soon as he got out of the car, the ex-president, dressed in a white shirt and smiling, took a walkabout. He thanked the people “To have come so many”. ” Ten years [d’absence], it’s a lot. Tomorrow [lundi], I will give you some news », he added.
“I saw it, that’s enough for me! “shouts a young man in a trance. Despite the sunset, the announcement of his arrival continued to attract hundreds of people from surrounding villages to Mama, an AFP journalist noted.
“The return of the child prodigy”
To get to the center-west region of Gagnoa where the village is located, Laurent Gbagbo passed through the capital Yamoussoukro. Before arriving in Mama, he went to Blouzon, a nearby locality, to meditate at the grave of his mother Marguerite Gadô, who died in 2014 while he was imprisoned in the prison of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Between Yamoussoukro and Mama, his procession was slowed down several times by an enthusiastic crowd that came to cheer him, which explains his late arrival in his village. From dawn, Mama’s main thoroughfare was the scene of an incessant ballet of buses, motorcycles and passenger cars filled with supporters of the former president who came to witness his return to his village.
“I could not miss such an event, the return of the child prodigy”, launches an old man wearing a loincloth, getting out of a bus. “It’s been ten years since he set foot in his village” and “Nobody wants to miss this”exclaims Eric Légré Gbagbo, a young man claiming to have the same name as the former head of state.
The police were present, but were discreet. Between Gagnoa and de Mama, 5 kilometers apart, the security service was provided by the youth of the village who searched vehicles and passengers at roadblocks.
Divorce from Simone
Before his arrival in the village, the announcement of the ex-president’s request for divorce from his wife Simone, with whom he formed a formidable tandem in power for ten years until their arrest in 2011, was in the foreground. heart of all discussions.
Barely returned to Abidjan, Laurent Gbagbo filed for divorce “Because of the reiterated refusal for years of Dame Simone Ehivet to consent to an amicable separation”. They have been married since 1989 and had two daughters together. “We do not agree with his decision, Simone is our mother”, explains Ouraga Djédjé, a young resident of Mama, in the company of his pregnant wife.
With a dozen of his comrades installed in a tavern, Ouraga commented on this news which fascinated the whole country, just after the return of Laurent Gbagbo on June 17 in Abidjan. This return was marked by numerous incidents between his supporters who wanted to welcome him near the airport and the police.
Laurent Gbagbo, in power since 2000, was arrested in April 2011 in Abidjan, then transferred seven months later to the ICC in The Hague, where he was accused in particular of crimes against humanity, for the violence committed as a result of the presidential election at the end of 2010.
Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to admit his defeat to Alassane Ouattara had caused a bloody post-election crisis that left some 3,000 dead. Reelected in October 2020 for a controversial third term, Mr. Ouattara gave the green light for the return of Laurent Gbagbo a few days after his acquittal by the ICC.