ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Supporters of Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo have submitted his documents to the electoral commission to get him registered as a candidate in the October elections, although his name had already been removed from the list of candidates.
The head of the EDI party, Georges Armand-Ouegnin, said they were naming Gbagbo as the party’s candidate. He rejected an earlier decision by the electoral commission that took the former president’s name off the list saying it was a political move. The electoral commission announced earlier this month that Gbagbo does not qualify as a candidate because of criminal convictions in Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast’s constitutional court will decide which of the 36 candidates who registered can actually stand in the election on Oct. 31.
“These elections must take place in a peaceful environment with the return of all exiles led by Laurent Gbagbo, the release of all political, civilian and military prisoners,” said Ouegnin. “We appeal to the outgoing head of state for an inclusive, sincere and responsible dialogue in the interest of Ivory Coast.”
Last year Gbagbo was acquitted at the Hague of crimes against humanity charges linked to his alleged role in the deadly violence that erupted after the 2010 elections. Gbagbo lost the elections to President Alassane Ouattara but refused to leave his post, leading to violence that killed thousands.
Although he was acquitted of the international charges, Gbagbo was ordered to remain in Brussels and to relinquish his passport.
He was also convicted in absentia in Ivory Coast in 2018 along with three of his ex-ministers to 20 years in prison and a fine for the “robbery” of funds from the National Agency of the Central Bank of West African states during the post-electoral crisis.
Supporters of another candidate, Guillaume Soro, also submitted his application for candidacy Monday. He had also been removed from the electoral list and is in exile in France.
Political tensions are rising ahead of the elections, especially following Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term in office, which many in the opposition say is illegal. Ouattara argues that a change in the constitution in 2016 means that his previous terms do not count toward the two-term presidential limit and he is, therefore, eligible for another term.