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Gbagbo returns to Ivory Coast, stirring divisions among survivors

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In 2010, former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing the election. He declared himself president, triggering a constitutional crisis and a conflict between his supporters and those of his opponent, Alassane Ouattara, which divided the country along ethnic and religious lines.

At least 3,000 people were killed in the war that ended with Mr. Gbagbo’s defeat in April 2011 and his transfer to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Why We Wrote This

The return of Ivory Coast’s disgraced ex-President Laurent Gbagbo has stirred division among survivors of the violence surrounding his fall in 2011. We ask how fragile is the current peace process.

In the decade since, the West African country has stabilized. Thousands of victims were compensated under a government that enacted political reforms and honored the victims of the bloodshed. The Ivoirian economy improved as cocoa sales boomed.

Now Mr. Gbagbo is back. And he recently set up a new political party, suggesting he’s planning a comeback.

Already the peace was fragile for this West African nation, with a justice scheme announced under President Ouattara deemed one-sided. Many still await reparations. How Ivoirians navigate this chapter will have implications for peace and political stability ahead.

LAGOS, NIGERIA

A decade after post-election violence tore Ivory Coast apart, Mamadou Coulibaly has rebuilt his life by focusing on survivors like himself. His organization compiled the names and stories of thousands of citizens caught up in the 2010-11 conflict, which ended in the defeat and extradition of a disgraced former president.

Since then, the West African country has stabilized. Thousands of victims were compensated under a government that enacted political reforms and honored the victims of the bloodshed. The Ivoirian economy improved as cocoa sales boomed.

Now the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, is back.

Why We Wrote This

The return of Ivory Coast’s disgraced ex-President Laurent Gbagbo has stirred division among survivors of the violence surrounding his fall in 2011. We ask how fragile is the current peace process.

And that has survivors like Mr. Coulibaly, who runs the National Federation of Victims of the Crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, or Fénavipelci, reflecting on how much work is left to be done.

For Mr. Coulibaly, true peace can only be achieved when political leaders like Mr. Gbagbo publicly take responsibility for their actions and apologize to victims like him.

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