US News A Abidjan, the countdown is launched before the arrival of the "captain" Laurent Gbagbo

21:00  16 june  2021
21:00  16 june  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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Des partisans de l'ex-président ivoirien Laurent Gbagbo chantent et dansent dans le quartier populaire de Yopougon, à Abidjan, en Côte d'Ivoire, le 16 juin 2021 © John Wessels supporters of the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo sing and dance in the popular district of Yopougon, in Abidjan, In Côte d'Ivoire, June 16, 2021

"Tomorrow is the return of the last prophet!". In the popular Yopougon district in Abidjan, locals count the hours before the arrival Thursday of the former President Laurent Gbagbo, their "champion", forced to leave Côte d'Ivoire 10 years ago.

men chat in the shade on a place in clay: it is their "parliament", their space of "free trade". But on Wednesday, there is only one subject in this neighborhood predominally pro-Gbagbo: the return of the "President". He who led Côte d'Ivoire for ten years until 2011 must land Thursday at 15:45 (local time and GMT), in a commercial flight from Brussels.

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Des jeunes filles devant un magasin de tee-shirts à l'effigie de l'ex-président ivoirien Laurent Gbagbo, dans le quartier populaire de Yopougon, à Abidjan, en Côte d'Ivoire, le 16 juin 2021 © John Wessels Young girls in front of a T-shirt store with the effigy of the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, in the popular Yopougon district, in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, June 16, 2021

Yopougon, the largest district of Abidjan with more than a million inhabitants, already known in normal times for its festive atmosphere, promises to surpass themselves in the days coming.

One of the men starts to sing: "We'll install Gbagbo!" And all resume the chorus again and again. "Tomorrow the Woody de Mama (the Natal village of Laurent Gbagbo, NDLR) will be there," they rejoice. The "Woody" means the man, the truth, the brave, in the language of the rearing ethnic group of Laurent Gbagbo.

Omer Kao Sery, a 61-year-old accountant, circulates with a sheet to register anyone who wants to go to the airport on Thyday. A bus start is organized. "Tomorrow? All at the airport, that it rains or that it snows", loose a man who has planned to leave at dawn.

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He wears a shirt with the effigy of the former president. "This shirt, people will put it throughout Côte d'Ivoire tomorrow," he says. "This return is immense, it is a great hope. Without this return, no peace".

- "Gbagbo arrives, we are cured" -

Video: Laurent Gbagbo in Côte d'Ivoire: The Yopougon district in Abidjan is prepared (France 24)

Laurent Gbagbo returns less than three months After his final acknowledgment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

It was arrested in April 2011 in Abidjan after contested the victory of Alassane Ouattara in the presidential election of 2010. For his adversaries, his refusal to admit his defeat had plunged his country into a bloody post-election crisis, during which Some 3,000 people had been killed in both camps.

President Ouattara gave in April his green light back from this rival, on behalf of "national reconciliation".

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A question is in all heads in the country: what will be Laurent Gbagbo, 76 years old, once back? "Politics, it is his job, he was born in. The time did not arrive to abandon him", Top and Fort Omer Kao Sere, causing applause fed "Parliament".

"The champion", "the captain", "the last prophet": the faithful do not lack inspiration to talk about their leader. "Laurent Gbagbo arrives, we are cured": also scans a group that dances on the edge of the road.

"Tomorrow, there will be more than songs, praises," says a speaker of the "Parliament", Pacome Guehi, 47-year-old National Education Inspector, on his 31 with his dark suit and beige tie. "Our mentor returns to life".

10 year old girls join the crowd. The return of Laurent Gbagbo, "It's joy, peace is the honor".

Sidonie Kouadia N'Dri, a 57-year-old woman wearing his granddaughter on the back, has no trouble being heard in the middle of men: "Gbagbo is our Father. He knows how to console. There are the tears. When they brought it to the Hague, we were all in coma. Now we can read hope in the sky ". Women applaud it.

Rebecca Sonia Grapa makes the show too by selling eraffy t-shirts from the former president, at 1,500 francs CFA unity (about 2.50 euros). "I sold 600. It works very well".

"Tomorrow is the reconciliation of the Ivorian population," she says. She will also go to the airport. She promises "a triumphal welcome", but insists: "We will be there in the appeasement" so that Côte d'Ivoire is "unified", "fraternal".


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