Laurent Gbagbo

Laurent Gbagbo

name = Laurent Koudou Gbagbo

imagesize = 189px
order = President of the Ivory Coast
primeminister = Seydou Diarra
Pascal Affi N'Guessan
Seydou Diarra
Charles Konan Banny
Guillaume Soro
vicepresident =
term_start = 26 October 2000
predecessor = Robert Guéï
successor =
birth_date = birth date and age|1945|05|31|df=y
birth_place = Gagnoa, Ivory Coast
dead =
spouse = Simone Gbagbo
party = FPI
religion = Roman Catholic []

Laurent Koudou Gbagbo (born May 31 1945 [ "QUI EST LAURENT GBAGBO ?"] , FPI website fr icon.] ) has been the President of Côte d'Ivoire (better known in English as the Ivory Coast) since 2000. Formerly a history teacher, Gbagbo was one of the primary opponents of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny.

Early life and political career

Gbagbo was born in the village of Mama, near Gagnoa. He became a history professor and an opponent of the regime of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. He was imprisoned from March 31 1971 to January 1973. In 1980, he became Director of the Institute of History, Art, and African Archeology at the University of Abidjan. He participated in a 1982 teachers' strike as a member of the National Trade Union of Research and Higher Education, and at this time he formed what would become the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI). Gbagbo went into exile in France in the same year. He returned to Côte d'Ivoire on September 13 1988 and at the FPI's constitutive congress, held on November 19–20, 1988, he was elected as the party's Secretary-General.

Gbagbo said in July 2008 that he had received crucial support from Blaise Compaoré, currently the President of Burkina Faso, while he was part of the underground opposition to Houphouët-Boigny. [ [ "Gbagbo acknowledges receiving underground support from Compaoré against Boigny"] , African Press Agency, July 29, 2008.]

Following the introduction of multiparty politics in 1990, Gbagbo was the only candidate to stand against Houphouët-Boigny in the October 1990 presidential election, receiving 18.3% of the vote against Houphouët-Boigny. In the November 1990 parliamentary election, Gbagbo won a seat in the National Assembly, along with eight other members of the FPI;Robert J. Mundt, "Côte d'Ivoire: Continuity and Change in a Semi-Democracy", "Political Reform in Francophone Africa" (1997), ed. Clark and Gardinier, pages 191–192.] Gbagbo was elected to a seat from Ouragahio District in Gagnoa Department and was President of the FPI Parliamentary Group from 1990 to 1995. In 1992 he was sentenced to two years in prison, charged with inciting violence, but was released later in the year. The FPI boycotted the 1995 presidential election. In 1996, Gbagbo was re-elected to his seat in the National Assembly from Ouragahio, following a delay in the holding of the election there, and in the same year he was elected President of the FPI.

At the FPI's 3rd Ordinary Congress on July 9–11, 1999, Gbagbo was chosen as the FPI's candidate for the October 2000 presidential election. This election took place after a December 1999 coup ran in which Robert Guéï took power. Guéï claimed victory in the election, held on October 22, 2000, but a popular revolt in favor of Gbagbo (who claimed he had actually won with 59.4% of the vote) broke out in Abidjan. Guéï was forced to flee, and Gbagbo became President on October 26.

Civil War

On September 19, 2002, a coup attempt against Gbagbo's government failed. The rebellious soldiers attempted to seize the cities of Abidjan, Bouaké, and Korhogo. They failed to take Abijdan, but were successful in the other two, respectively in the center and north of the country. The situation quickly developed into a civil war between a government-held south and a rebel-held north, but after several months of fighting a peace agreement was reached and French peacekeepers arrived to patrol a cease-fire line. According to the terms of the agreement, Gbagbo would remain in office (the rebels had previously demanded his resignation), but a new unity government would be formed under a "neutral" prime minister, including the FPI, the civilian opposition and representatives of the rebel groups. The agreement has been opposed by many of the president's supporters, who believe too many concessions are being granted to the rebels and that the French are supporting the rebels' political objectives.


Early in November 2004, after the peace agreement had effectively collapsed following the rebels' refusal to disarm, Gbagbo ordered airstrikes against the rebels. During one of these airstrikes in Bouaké, French soldiers were hit and nine of them were killed; the Ivorian government has said it was a mistake, but the French have claimed it was deliberate. They responded by destroying most Ivoirian military aircraft, and violent retaliatory riots against the French broke out in Abidjan.

Gbagbo's original mandate as president expired on October 30, 2005, but due to the lack of disarmament it was deemed impossible to hold an election, and therefore his term in office was extended for a maximum of one year, according to a plan worked out by the African Union; this plan was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. [ [ "UN endorses plan to leave president in office beyond mandate"] , IRIN, October 14, 2005.] With the late October deadline approaching in 2006, it was regarded as very unlikely that the election would in fact be held by that point, and the opposition and the rebels rejected the possibility of another term extension for Gbagbo. [Joe Bavier, [ "Ivory Coast Opposition, Rebels Say No to Term Extension for President"] , VOA News, August 18, 2006.] The U. N. Security Council endorsed another one-year extension of Gbagbo's term on November 1, 2006; however, the resolution provided for the strengthening of Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's powers. Gbagbo said the next day that elements of the resolution deemed to be constitutional violations would not be applied. [ [ "Partial rejection of UN peace plan"] , IRIN, November 2, 2006.]

A peace deal between the government and the rebels, or New Forces, was signed on March 4, 2007, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and subsequently Guillaume Soro, leader of the New Forces, became Prime Minister. [ [ "Former rebel leader takes over as Ivory Coast's prime minister"] , Associated Press ("International Herald Tribune"), April 4, 2007.] [ "New Ivory Coast govt 'a boost for Gbagbo'"] , AFP ("IOL"), April 12, 2007.] These events were seen by some observers as substantially strengthening Gbagbo's position.

Gbagbo visited the north for the first time since the outbreak of the war for a disarmament ceremony, the "peace flame", on July 30. This ceremony involved burning weapons to symbolize the end of the conflict. [ [ "Ivory Coast leaders burn weapons"] , BBC News, July 30, 2007.] [ "Côte d'Ivoire: Gbagbo en zone rebelle pour prôner la paix et des élections rapides"] , AFP (, July 30, 2007 fr icon.] At the ceremony, Gbagbo declared the war over and said that the country should move quickly to elections, which are planned for early 2008.

On August 30 2008, Gbagbo was named as the FPI's candidate for the November 2008 presidential election at a party congress; he was the only candidate for the FPI nomination. [ [ "I Coast President Gbagbo wins party nomination for November poll"] , AFP, August 30, 2008.]

ee also

*Politics of Côte d'Ivoire
*Civil war in Côte d'Ivoire


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