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A key figure in post-electoral violence that shook Ivory Coast in 2011, dubbed the “general of the street” for his ability to muster a crowd, Ble Goude flew back in late November after more than eight years.

He and Gbagbo were acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March 2021 for crimes arising from the conflict.

Ble Goude has never hidden his ambitions, and he told a press conference in Abidjan, “I come back as a main (political) actor… who is looking to govern Ivory Coast one day.

“Ivory Coast needs me and I would like to take part in the next electoral contest,” he said.

“When I say that tomorrow I will lead Ivory Coast, I am not joking,” the 51-year-old added.

President Alassane Ouattara last year pardoned his predecessor Gbagbo in the name of national reconciliation and his office approved Ble Goude’s return.

But Ble Goude remains banned from standing in elections because of a 20-year jail sentence linked to the post-election bloodshed.

“I want the 20-year prison sentence against me annulled,” Ble Goude said, adding, “I don’t know what role I will play in 2025, I respect the law.”

Presidential elections are due in 2025 in the West African state, a regional economic power and leading cocoa exporter.

Ivory Coast remains deeply scarred by the 2010-11 conflict, which erupted after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara.

Some 3,000 people were killed, with Gbagbo arrested in April 2011. Ble Goude was detained in Ghana in 2013 and transferred to The Hague.

In 2015, Ble Goude launched his own political party, the Pan-African Congress for the Justice and Equality of Peoples (COJEP).

The two former allies have not met since Ble Goude returned home, but he insisted there was “no breakdown” between him and Gbagbo.

Source: AFRICA NEWS

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