Crowd Beat Up Man Mistaken For Côte d’Ivoire’s Ex-President

BuzzNigeria stumbled on a video of a man suspected to be Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Côte d’Ivoire, being attacked on the streets of Paris.

Usually, after people have left a position of power, they become some sort of celebrities and are accorded a high level of respect, especially when people meet them in ‘unusual’ places.

On the contrary, though, this turned out not to be the case with Côte d’Ivoire’s former president, Laurent Gbagbo, who is presently faced with corruption charges at the International Criminal Court in Hague.

More to that, a man who was thought to be the former president was accosted and beaten by some men who spotted him while walking on the streets of Paris.

However, it was discovered to be a case of mistaken identity as the man who was manhandled and chased across the street was later seen to be an innocent man whose only crime was looking like the former president.

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Mr. Laurent Gbagbo sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential vote. This eventually paved way for the unceremonious end of his administration in 2011.

There were bloody clashes between rival forces for over five months in 2010 and 2011 which led to the death of some 3,000 people, with Mr. Gbagbo basing himself in the presidential palace.

He was arrested in April 2011 by forces loyal to President Ouattara, backed by troops from former colonial power France, and later that year, he was extradited to The Hague.

Laurent Gbagbo was on January 28, 2016, hurled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague charged with crimes against humanity.

He had already spent five years in jail awaiting trial by a court that ordinarily has no jurisdiction to try him as the ICC is not the court of first instance. The ICC is a court of last resort trying only cases national authorities cannot or will not prosecute.

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The prosecutor said the specific charges against Gbagbo and 44-year old Charles Ble Goude are four; murder, rape, inhumane acts, and persecution.

Reading out the charges, prosecutors cited cases including the alleged rape of 38 women at a pro-Ouattara rally and alleged killing of 10 people by shelling at a market.

Meanwhile, Gbagbo’s wife, Simone, was served a sentence of 20-years imprisonment while his son, Michel was handed a five-year jail term.

One may ask why Ivory Coast descended into civil war in the first place…. The country had been divided since 2002, with rebels in control of the mainly Muslim north.

They mostly supported Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim whose family originated from neighbouring Burkina Faso. So when Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to Mr. Ouattara in the 2010 election, fighting soon broke out.

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That does not mean that the conflict was really about religion, no, it was more about identity. Mr. Gbagbo and other southern, Christian politicians portrayed themselves as “true Ivorians”, in contrast to northern Muslims, many of whom had foreign origins.

Under Laurent Gbagbo, many northerners were not allowed to vote, while Mr. Ouattara was banned from standing for election until 2010. In western Ivory Coast, the conflict also took on ethnic lines.

In the worst cases during the conflict, Ivorian security forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo shelled areas of the main city Abidjan, where many northerners lived.

The ICC also accused pro-Gbagbo militias of attacking members of ethnic groups believed to support Mr. Ouattara. But pro-Ouattara forces were also accused of similar atrocities and these have not been prosecuted.

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