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Letting Bygones be Bygones as Cote d’Ivoire Celebrates Independence

President Alassane Ouattara has pardoned his predecessor and longtime rival, Laurent Gbagbo, as part of a reconciliation drive ahead of elections due in 2025. The president said he has also asked that Gbagbo’s bank accounts be unfrozen and that his lifetime annuity be paid. Gbagbo, president from 2000 to 2011, returned to Ivory Coast last year after being acquitted in 2019 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague on war crime charges for his role in a civil war sparked by his refusal to concede defeat after the 2010 election. Back home, he still faced a 20-year prison sentence for a 2019 conviction linked to the robbery of funds from the Abidjan central bank during the post-election period. Ouattara’s decision for a pardon follows a rare meeting in July between him, Gbagbo, and former President Henri Konan Bedie. The president has not yet said whether he plans to run for a fourth term in 2025. He has said he would like to step down but also suggested he would need Gbagbo and Bedie to commit to withdrawing from politics in order to do so.