Ex-Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbabgo’s Trial Set To Begin Today

The all expected trial of former leader of Ivory Coast is set to hold today at the International Court. The two Accused persons, former President Laurent Gbagbo and former militia leader Charles Ble Goude are pleading not guilty to the charges against them.

Charles Ble Goude is accused of organizing attacks on opposition supporters. Laurent Gbabo’s Lawyer, Emmanuel Altit says Gbagbo is pleased to finally go on trial because it is an opportunity for reconciliation for him. Equally, the lawyer of the other defendant, describes his client is a man of peace.

Former President Gbagbo is faced with four charges; murder, attempted murder, rape, and prosecution, which are crimes against humanity. These charges have to do with the country’s civil conflict that erupted after he lost elections in 2010. He is the most senior politician to go on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague since the global war crimes tribunal was set up 13 years ago.

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The 2010 Ivorian elections between the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo (The Accused) and his opponent Ouattara had resulted in a gross political violence when Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat against his opponent. The many strings of violence ensured that the election did not yield a winner and as a result, a second electoral round was held on November 28, 2010.

The Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) released the polling results on December 2, 2010 and declared Ouattara the winner. However, the result was declared invalid by the Gbagbo allies after they confirmed that it was not released by the December 1 deadline. This led to more violence as both candidates claimed to be winners.

Gbagbo refused to step down and his opponent who had been declared winner equally refused to back down. Ouattara went ahead to establish his own government in the country thereby causing a huge disagreement between allies of the two ruling governments. The disagreement rose until it became a full-blown civil war which was said to have claimed the lives of 3,000 people. Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011, by forces loyal to President Ouattara backed by French troops and was later handed over to The Hague.

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His trial led to a lot of back lashing and criticism across Africa over the international justice system. Most Africans are said to be critical of the ICC for pursuing only Africans alone as Gbagbo is the first ex-head of state to be dragged to trial at the world’s only permanent war crimes court.