His release was confirmed by the International Criminal Court in late March, along with former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. Charles Blé Goudé, who is still in the Netherlands, is now waiting to return to Côte d ‘Ivory. What formalities does he have to complete before returning? What does the founder of the COJEP party look like in recent events in the Ivorian political scene? Charles Blé Goudé is our guest this morning.
RFI: More than four months after being released by the ICC, you are still in the Netherlands, when do you expect to return to Côte d’Ivoire?
Charles Blé Goudé: Unfortunately, it’s not up to me. It’s entirely up to the President of the Ivory Coast, and I’m waiting for my turn, because my fellow prisoner has returned.
You are waiting your turn, what exactly are you waiting to be able to return?
I’m waiting for my passport to be issued to me first. I was registered on 16 July, but I am also waiting to set a return date with the Ivorian authorities, because without their agreement I cannot return to Côte d’Ivoire.
Have you already been involved in discussions with the Ivorian authorities?
The court is in contact with the Ivorian authorities. My party is in contact with the Ivorian authorities, and we are waiting. For a file of this size, you do not need to make much noise. It is prepared in silence and without noise.
Have you been given a date, a deadline to get your passport?
No, but most Ivorian citizens who have already made this request inform me that it will take a month, a month and a half, so I think we have the schedule at the moment.
You were sentenced in Ivory Coast to 20 years in prison for acts committed during the Ivorian post-election crisis. Do you not worry about having to serve this sentence when you return?
Many pro Gbagbo leaders, including Laurent Gbagbo himself, have been sentenced to 20 years in prison and are currently back in Côte d’Ivoire and continuing their activities. I do not know why for me it should be different. I reckon with the greatness of the President of the Republic so that the same gesture is made in my favor.
Back in the Ivory Coast, what are you going to do?
The Ivorians, in whose name all leaders speak, need only one thing today, and that is peace. When I return to the Ivory Coast, from where I came from the depths of the crisis, I want to act as an instrument of peace so that I can add my stone to the reconciliation building that is already underway. At the moment, this is the only project I have. Then we’ll see.
Laurent Gbagbo returned to Côte d’Ivoire in June, have you changed, have you been in contact with him since he returned?
Before he got on his plane, yes, and when he arrived, he called me to tell me he had arrived.
Since he came to Abidjan he has not mentioned your name, he has not mentioned you in public, are your relationships still good?
In any case, I think there are no clouds in the relationship between Laurent Gbagbo and me. And if there ever was, it’s not in the microphones that we solve the problems with his mentor. I do not think there is a problem. By the way, I let everyone make their interpretations. And the interpretation of each obliges him.
What do you think of Laurent Gbagbo’s decision to create a new political party and abandon the FPI?
President Laurent Gbagbo has sufficiently explained the reasons why he made such a decision. I would not comment too much. I respect his decision and I realize that the political landscape in Côte d’Ivoire is changing, and that is good for democracy.
Laurent Gbagbo announced the creation of a new party. Will you integrate this new party?
All leaders of political parties near Laurent Gbagbo are in Côte d’Ivoire, except me. When I return to my country, that I have taken note of the reality, that I have left the matter to my staff and that we will have left it to the courts, we will publish our decision. And this is not Charles Blé Goudé’s decision, it will be the joint decision of the whole Court.
We hear regularly about the renewal of generations, the renewal of the political class in Côte d’Ivoire, do you think that you yourself are part of this new generation?
I was a student leader, I created a movement that eventually became COJEP, and my generation will one day strive to lead the Ivory Coast, we have not yet exercised political functions as such. I am part of this generation that has not yet led Côte d’Ivoire. If you can call it a new generation, yes, I’m one of them.
The next presidential election is 2025, is it possible for you to have a project that you say will deal with the Ivory Coast from 2025?
We are 2021, and I’m still here in The Hague, while all the leaders close to President Laurent Gbagbo are in Côte d’Ivoire. When I return to my country, that I should have been aware of the political realities, that I will have discussed with the authorities in my party, anything is possible.
Whether it’s 2025 or the next deadlines, is your goal to present yourself as a presidential candidate in Côte d’Ivoire?
I said that one day I will run for president of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, I’m not interested in fetishism. To claim the chicken’s wing, you must be at least where it is cut. Wait until I’m where the chicken is cut, and I claim the wing. At the moment I am trying to do what I can to be able to return to my country.