Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, who has been barred from running in the October presidential election, should be allowed to vote in the poll, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights said Friday, reported France 24.
The Arusha-based court, established by African Union members in 2004, asked Ivory Coast to take all necessary steps to immediately remove all obstacles preventing Gbagbo from contesting in the election. Ivory Coast withdrew its recognition of the court’s jurisdiction in April this year.
The African rights court said Gbagbo’s conviction should not be included on his judicial record until it had time to deliver a full judgement.
The court delivered a similar judgment earlier this month involving former Ivory Coast rebel leader and former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.
The country’s Constitutional Court has refused Gbagbo’s candidacy, which was requested by his supporters.
According to the electoral commission, Gbagbo, who was president from 2000 to 2010, cannot run in the election as he is not on electoral lists to vote, which was updated this year. That position is based on the former president being convicted in absentia in Ivory Coast in 2018 along with three of his ex-ministers for stealing funds from the National Agency of the Central Bank of West African states during the 2010 post-electoral crisis. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined.
Gbagbo was, however, freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague after he was cleared in January 2019 of crimes against humanity. He is currently living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against the ICC ruling.
During the 2010 elections, Gbagbo lost to current President Alassane Ouattara but refused to leave his post, leading to violent clashes that killed thousands. More than 3,000 people were killed in the fighting between forces loyal to the two men.