African court says ex-Ivory Coast leader should be candidateSeptember 25, 2020 8:23pm

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights said Friday that former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo should not be excluded from the list of candidates for the West African country’s Oct. 31 election.

The Arusha-based court issued an order in which it requests the “reinstatement on the electoral list” of the former president and asks Ivory Coast to “take all necessary steps to immediately remove all obstacles” that prevent his participation. The rights court was created by the African Union in 2004, but Ivory Coast does not recognize its authority.

Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Court refused Gbagbo’s candidacy, which was requested by his supporters.

The country's electoral commission argues Gbagbo cannot be a candidate because he is not on electoral lists to vote. That position is based on Gbagbo being convicted in absentia in Ivory Coast in 2018 along with three of his ex-ministers for the “robbery” of funds from the National Agency of the Central Bank of West African states during the 2010 post-electoral crisis. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined.

Last year Gbagbo was acquitted by the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Netherlands, of crimes against humanity charges linked to his alleged role in the deadly violence that erupted after the 2010 elections. Gbagbo lost to current President Alassane Ouattara but refused to leave his post, leading to violence that killed thousands. Although he was acquitted of the international charges, Gbagbo was ordered to remain in Brussels and to relinquish his passport.

On Friday, the African rights court also said Ivory Coast should “suspend the reference to the criminal conviction from the criminal record.”

The same court earlier delivered a similar judgment involving former Ivory Coast rebel leader and former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, whose candidacy was also rejected.

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