Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara will meet his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo next week, a presidential spokesperson said on Wednesday, reported Africa News.
The meeting, which has been scheduled on July 27, will be the first since Gbagbo came back to Abidjan in mid-June after living a decade in exile and years of legal procedures at the International Criminal Court.
During a press conference, spokesman Amadou Coulibaly said the meeting will take place in the presidential palace.
Ouattara and Gbagbo had faced off in the 2010 presidential election. As both of them claimed victory in the vote, Ivory Coast was plunged into a deep violent political crisis. It is estimated that about 3 000 people lost their lives as Ivory Coast’s security forces and pro-Ouattara militants fought for power.
The 76-year-old, Gbagbo, was detained in April 2011 and presented before the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity resulting from the violence. The court acquitted him in January 2019, a decision that was upheld in March this year and enabled him to return home on June 17.
After returning back, Gbagbo already met with key opposition figures including former president and political rival Henri Konan Bédié.
President Ouattara officially welcomed his return, saying that it was crucial to ease the country’s entrenched political problems.
Notably, a number of people were killed last year in pre-electoral clashes with the police after Ouattara controversially unveiled his bid for a third presidential term. He won the October election with a big margin but it had little credibility as almost all of the opposition boycotted the poll.
On Tuesday, Ouattara appealed to the people of the Ivory Coast for peace on the day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
“May the steps that have been taken for social cohesion, for reconciliation, continue to be made. May Ivory Coast continues to live in peace,” he said.