Did Belgium have a hand in Gbagbo’s release?
Apart from a few names identified as registered expatriates working in Belgium, there is hardly any information on existing relationships between Belgium and Ivory Coast. This is why it came as a surprise to many when the western Europe country accepted to take in former Ivory Coast president, Laurent Gbagbo, who has been in detention by the International Criminal Court since 2011.
The former west African leader was charged with crimes against humanity following his alleged involvement in the 2010 crisis that left 3,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced. The crisis occurred when Mr. Gbagbo refused to hand over power after losing the presidential re-run elections to a fierce rival, Alassane Ouattara.
Mr. Gbagbo and his close ally, Charles Blé Goudé, have been cooling off in ICC custody after their arrest in April 2011. In January this year the charges against them were finally thrown out by an ICC tribunal which overturned the appeal suit filed by the prosecution.
His release has since caused missed feelings in the country with many contesting his release and others praising the decision of the court. There is no doubt that the release of the 73-year-old ex-leader will be a great influence on the country’s next general elections.
But why has Belgium agreed to accept Mr. Gbagbo? What do they stand to gain and how is this going to affect the country; remains questions demanding answers.
The battle for dominance in Africa by foreign powers have become a thing of concern today and this has given Africans a legitimate reason to ask questions after it was announced that the ex-leader was released to Belgium.
A spokesperson of the International Criminal Court confirmed that Gbagbo was already in Belgium and no longer in custody of the court.
“Mr. Gbagbo is now released under conditions in Belgium,” an ICC spokeswoman said, without giving further details.
However, the Belgian foreign minister, Didier Reynders, has said there is no cause for alarm as the country only acted on a request from the ICC “to host Mr. Gbagbo simply because he has family in Belgium: his second wife, a child in Brussels.
“We have concluded that it is all right for him to stay in Belgium while on conditional release.
“There will be surveillance,” he added; but how true are these claims?
What are your thoughts?
Header Image Credit: BBC
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