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Ex-I.Coast leader launches new quest for presidency

By Pierre DONADIEU
Ivory Coast Gbagbo, with a decade-long exile behind him, this weekend oversaw his new African People's Party's congress.  By Sia KAMBOU (AFP)
OCT 17, 2021 LISTEN
Gbagbo, with a decade-long exile behind him, this weekend oversaw his new African People's Party's congress. By Sia KAMBOU (AFP)

Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo on Sunday launched a new political party he hopes will return him to the presidency.

Gbagbo, with a decade-long exile behind him, this weekend oversaw his new African People's Party's congress as he seeks to "reunite the left" and use the occasion as a springboard to the 2025 presidential election.

"We will resume our journey together," Gbagbo told delegates in his first speech before a big audience since his return to Ivory coast in mid-June.

"I will be in politics until I die!" he added, to a standing ovation. Gbagbo was, as expected, elected leader of the new party during the congress.

"Look at the world and see which are the powerful ones, they are the big countries of size, China, the United States, Russia, Canada," he told his audience.

"As long as we are in micro-states we are nothing. African States unite!" he added, referring to one of the major congress themes -- African sovereignty in the face of the influence of Western powers.

Political representatives from a dozen African countries attended this weekend's congress.

The 76-year-old, whose 2000-2011 rule was marked by turbulence and division in the world's biggest cocoa producer, has been highly visible since returning.

He was removed from office in April 2011 after a short civil war that claimed 3,000 lives, sparked by his refusal to accept electoral defeat by the current president, Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo was then flown to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity resulting from the conflict, but was eventually acquitted.

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