Ivory Coast: After obtaining passport, ex-Gbagbo aide vows to return

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A former pillar of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo's regime, Charles Blé Goudé obtained his passport Monday in The Hague, more than a year after his acquittal of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC), his lawyer announced in a statement.

Charles Blé Goudé received his "ordinary passport" from the Ivorian ambassador to the Netherlands and expressed "all his gratitude and appreciation" to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, "for his personal involvement in the process of his return to Côte d'Ivoire, an important step has just been taken," said the statement from the lawyer, Me N'dry Claver.

He "reiterated his intention to return to Côte d'Ivoire in order to make his contribution" to "the consolidation of national reconciliation," the statement said, adding that his lawyers "will maintain dialogue with the Ivorian authorities to agree on a timetable for his return.

Charles Blé Goudé and Laurent Gbagbo were finally acquitted in March 2021 by the ICC in The Hague of alleged crimes during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis, which arose from Mr. Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat to Alassane Ouattara and left some 3,000 dead.

Gbagbo was able to return to Ivory Coast in June 2021, where he established a new opposition party, the African Peoples Party (PPA-CI).

Arrested in 2013 in Ghana, Mr. Blé Goudé is the former leader of the nationalist Young Patriots movement and was nicknamed "the general of the street" for his ability to mobilize crowds, especially youth. He was transferred to the ICC in The Hague in 2014.

Like Laurent Gbagbo, president from 2000 to 2011, he was sentenced in absentia in Ivory Coast to 20 years in prison for acts related to the post-election crisis.

The sentence has officially not been lifted, but it has not been applied against former President Gbagbo since his return.

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