Write Laurent Gbagbo off at your peril.
The former Cote d’Ivoire President who became the first former African head of state to appear in the dock at the International Criminal Court in the Hague has escaped more hazardous situations than Indiana Jones.
One of these is that international tribunal sentencing him in 2015 to 20 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity.
It acquitted him in January last year and set him free provided he did not return to Cote d’Ivoire.
The court found that there was not enough evidence that he had ordered the heinous crimes that occurred during the civil war that followed his refusal to accept defeat by Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential election.
The prosecution is appealing this decision which was not well received by the Ivorean authorities and the families and friends of the 3000 people who died in that five-month of conflict that ended with Gbagbo’s arrest by Ouattara’s forces backed by the French soldiers.
Gbagbo went to Belgium which agreed to grant him asylum.
In May the ICC declared he was no longer restricted to living there.
Determined to contest the election scheduled for October 31 Gbagbo applied for a diplomatic passport to which he is entitled as a former head of state.
Having had no response from the foreign ministry in Yamoussoukro Gbagbo has made applied for an ordinary Ivorean passport at the embassy in Brussels
This week his drastically split Ivorean Popular Front (FPI) named Pascal Affi N’Guessan as its presidential candidate.
He’ll in all likelihood be opposing Ouatarra following the death last month of Amadou Gon Coulibaly the chosen candidate of the ruling Houphouëists For Democracy and Peace (RHDP).
Ouattara has yet to confirm that he will be going back on his undertaking to step down.
Gbagbo’s supporters are at pains to dismiss N’Guessan as the favourite of the renovators wing of the FPI
They insist that the Gbagbo Or Nothing faction of the party remains alive and well and that they are foursquare behind him seeking a third mandate.
So much depends now on whether the Ivorian authorities allow Gbagbo to come home and contest the election.