Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara, Gbagbo, Bédié… inside their closed-door meeting

The reunion was an opportunity for the three men to discuss major issues, including Guillaume Soro and political prisoners, before another meeting is held, whose date has already been set.

The meeting between Alassane Ouattara (ADO), Henri Konan Bédié and Laurent Gbagbo took place in a “pleasant” atmosphere. And for good reason, as the tension has gradually decreased in recent months. The head of state regularly speaks with his two predecessors over the phone and they themselves talk to each other.

Although there was still a little tension, due to the fact that the leader of the Parti Démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), Bédié, sometimes felt a little “forgotten” and reproached ADO for not calling him enough on his own initiative, everything has returned to order.

The 14 July meeting, which was discretely announced in the Council of Ministers on 6 July, was intended to embody this appeasement.

New measures

According to our information, the president addressed the main issues of the moment, on which his political action is focused: the high cost of living, the major projects underway, the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine, etc. The two former presidents listened to him while suggesting ways to improve.

The three men then discussed the issue of those who had been arrested for civil disobedience in 2020, but who had then agreed to respect the political dialogue’s conclusions and let the justice system do its work. Decisions on this matter will be made in the coming weeks. They then examined the case of Guillaume Soro, the former president of the National Assembly, who will be sentenced in June 2021 to life imprisonment for plotting to undermine state security. Here again, they decided to respect the judiciary’s independence.

However, the important issue of reforming the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was not discussed. A fortnight ago, this project was examined by the National Assembly, which decided that Gbagbo’s Parti des Peuples Africains-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) could join the commission.

To extend this meeting, ADO is expected to unveil new relaxation measures during his traditional speech ahead of the 7 August bank holiday.

General amnesty?

According to our sources, a ceremony, to which the two former presidents have been invited, will take place in Yamoussoukro. They will all meet to attend the parade and then share a meal.

After his visit to South Africa, ADO will travel to Mougins around 23 July. He will use his time in the south of France to reflect on his future announcements and in particular, a general amnesty for Gbagbo and the military personnel arrested during the 2010 post-election crisis. The former First Lady Simone Gbagbo benefited from this same measure on 6 August 2018 – as well as 800 detainees prosecuted for crimes related to the 2010-2011 post-election crisis – and recovered all their rights.

At the 14 July reunion, he was accompanied by his cabinet director, Fidèle Sarassoro, the presidency’s secretary-general Abdourahmane Cissé and his minister of the interior and security, Vagondo Diomandé. Bédié was surrounded by Niamkey Koffi (who led the working group set up by the former president to prepare for the meeting), his cabinet director Ehouman Bernard and his director of protocol Porquet Romain.

Finally, Gbagbo also came with his cabinet director, Emmanuel Auguste Ackah and the PPA-CI’s spokesman, Justin Koné Katinan.

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