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Gbagbo Stays Booted Off Election Roll

FILE: Former Ivory Coast President and President of the African Peoples' Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PPA-CI), Laurent Gbagbo, speaks during a ceremony in Yopougon, a popular district of Abidjan on March 31, 2023.

ABIDJAN — An appeal by Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo to be reinstated on the election roll has been rejected by the country's electoral commission, his party said Friday.

Former President Gbagbo filed his appeal on June 8 after being struck from the roll, his African People's Party - Ivory Coast (PPA-CI) party, a left-wing pan-African group, said in a statement.

Gbagbo returned to Ivory Coast in June 2021 after being acquitted by the International Criminal Court on human rights charges linked to post-electoral violence in 2011.

But he still faces a 20-year prison sentence in Ivory Coast for an alleged "robbery" of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) in 2011.

This conviction handed down in 2018, while he was imprisoned in The Hague, resulted in the loss of his civic and political rights and therefore his removal from the electoral roll.

The former president considers the removal "a political maneuver" aimed at eliminating him from political life and diminishing his party and its supporters from local elections in September, the statement said.

Gbagbo "vigorously refutes" the accusation about stealing funds from the BCEAO, and "intends to fight" the electoral commission's decision, the statement added.

He claims he was never summoned to trial and was never notified of the judgement that was handed down in his absence.

The political climate has become tense in the country in recent weeks.

Some eight million voters are due to head to the polls September 2 to elect new municipal and regional leaders ahead of the 2025 presidential election.