Ivory Coast government reaches out to ex-leader's backers
4/27/2012 9:30:03 PM -
GRAND-BASSAM, Ivory Coast (AFP) - The Ivory Coast government on Friday reached out to supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to step down after 2010 elections caused a bloodbath.
Prime Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou, accompanied by several ministers, met a delegation of Gbagbo supporters at Grand-Bassam, a seaside resort near the economic capital Abidjan, for a political dialogue Friday and Saturday.
"We need to be able to exorcise the bad," Ahoussou said as he kicked off the talks. "The serious crisis that plunged Ivory Coast into mourning ... was a crisis of dialogue and trust between Ivorians" and within the political class, he said.
The five-month crisis in Ivory Coast, ending with Gbagbo's arrest in April 2011, claimed some 3,000 lives.
Ahoussou, who took office in March, urged a return to dialogue to seek ways to "build the future (as) brothers and sisters condemned to live together."
Gbagbo's party, the opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), was initially reluctant to take part in the talks but finally sent a delegation led by former national reconciliation minister Sebastien Dano Djedje.
"We are the ones asking for republican dialogue," he told reporters. "We are the ones who suffered the worst difficulties (and who) have a lot to ask."
President Alassane Ouattara met in September 2011 with representatives of the Gbagbo camp but the talks broke down.
The FPI boycotted legislative elections in December, protesting Gbagbo's detention at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.