Côte d’Ivoire’s Gbagbo heads home after war crimes acquittal

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Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 15, 2019. Peter Dejong/Pool via AP

Former president Laurent Gbagbo returns to Côte d’Ivoire on Thursday for the first time in nearly a decade, after he was cleared of crimes against humanity and his once-bitter rival welcomed him back in the name of reconciliation.

Gbagbo left the country in humiliation in 2011, after his refusal to accept defeat in an election sparked a conflict that ended in his arrest and dispatch to The Hague.

The 76-year-old’s homecoming will be a key test of stability in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer and the wealthiest country in francophone West Africa.

He was ousted in April 2011 after around 3,000 people died in the months-long conflict that followed his refusal to accept electoral defeat at the hands of Alassane Ouattara, the current president.

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