Nigerian Govt Demands Probe Into ‘Mysterious’ Death Of Citizen Jailed In Cote d’Ivoire


The Nigerian Government has demanded a full autopsy on the ‘sudden and mysterious’ death of Itunnu Babalola, a Nigerian lady sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for alleged human trafficking in Cote d’Ivoire.

Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, made the demand while condemning the death of the lady said to have been wrongfully jailed.

In a statement by the commission’s spokesman, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, NIDCOM revealed that Itunnu’s case caught its attention about five months ago.

For Dabiri-Erewa, the death of the lady was a tragic blow that came at a time the Nigerian mission in Cote d’Ivoire had engaged the services of a lawyer to handle her appeal case.

“Unfortunately, Itunnu died abruptly while all hands were on deck to seek both legal and diplomatic intervention for her by Nigeria,” she was quoted as saying in the statement shared on social media on Tuesday.

“Itunnu was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for an offence she did not apparently commit,” the statement read. “Itunnu had accused an Ivorian of a robbery at her residence and insisted on filing a case against him.

“The accused who happens to be related to an Ivorian policeman asked her to drop the case, but she insisted on getting justice. Itunnu went ahead to file charges against him and allegedly used a different name to file the case and somehow, a case of robbery which she filed mysteriously turned to a case of human trafficking against her.

“She was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment while the Nigerian mission in Côte d’Ivoire, supported by the Nigerian community, got her a lawyer, paid part payment of legal fees for the lawyer to appeal the judgment, while at the same time seeking diplomatic intervention.”

Itunnu Babalola was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for an offence she was wrongfully accused of.


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According to NIDCOM, staff of the Nigerian mission had visited Itunnu in prison situated in the hinterland – a distance of over four hours from Abidjan.

While the appeal case was ongoing, Itunnu was said to have complications from diabetes and was rushed to the hospital.

The fee for her treatment, according to the agency, was paid by the Nigerian mission through the lawyer whose services were engaged by the mission.

But the lady later died after a few days of admission at the hospital.

“Her death will, however, not stop the appeal in court in order to vindicate her of the charges against her,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

Twin Towns At Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Border Clamour For Reopening

Street vendors in Noe, a border town between Ivory Coast and Ghana where residents have not been able to cross due to the COVID-19 pandemic on September 22, 2021.  (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)



“Noe looks like a ghost town,” says Eloukou Yapo, a youth leader in the Ivorian town near the border with Ghana. “Nothing moves. Everything has stopped.”

Life here has been in limbo for the past year and a half, since the authorities sealed off the border to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But the measure also killed off thriving trade and exchanges with Noe’s sister town Elubo, which lies across the Tanoe River marking the frontier.

In Noe, 170 kilometres (105 miles) east of the Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan, many shops are shuttered and the streets are deserted, with trucks and buses standing idle.

A grey gate, the point of access to the bridge spanning the Tanoe, is firmly closed.

Nanan Assi Atchan II, a traditional chief and former policeman in his seventies, adds: “People are suffering greatly from the closure.

“There are Ivorians who farmland in Ghanaian territory and vice versa… They can’t get to their plantation, which could fall into ruin.”

Several hundred Ghanaian traders demonstrated in Elubo on September 2, lobbying unsuccessfully for Ivory Coast to reopen the border.


Truck are seen stationary at the customs in Noe, a border town between Ivory Coast and Ghana where residents have not been able to cross due to the COVID-19 pandemic on September 22, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


Stealthy trade

But people in the twin towns have also quietly organised themselves to defy the ban.

They have cut many tracks through the bush to the river, which people cross with makeshift canoes to keep business going.

“My three children go to the English-speaking school (in Elubo) and take the risk of crossing the river, at a cost of 2,000 CFA francs (three euros / $3.50) a day,” says Valerie Botche, a shopkeeper in Noe.

West of Noe, similar problems are being voiced in Adiake, a town on the Aby Lagoon, a key transit point for trade with Ghana.

There, local people say the border closure has been massively disruptive to their lives, but a blessing for traffickers of all stripes.

“The biggest drug seizures have been made in this area,” says Adiake resident Anvoh Bie.

The Ivorian authorities imposed drastic measures as the first COVID-19 cases began to appear in March 2020.

In addition to border closures, there was a state of emergency, a curfew, the shuttering of schools and places of worship, and the isolation of Abidjan, the epicentre of the epidemic.

Some of the measures have been gradually lifted, but land and sea borders remain closed.


 Life here has been in limbo for the past year and a half, since the authorities sealed off the border to help prevent the spread of Covid. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


Interwoven economies

Côte d’Ivoire shares borders with four other neighbours — Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Liberia — but its economic, social and cultural ties with Ghana are especially strong.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are “twin nations” in terms of geography, population, agriculture and, more recently, oil. They are also the two largest cocoa producers on the planet, accounting for two-thirds of world production.

Côte d’Ivoire, with a population of around 25 million, has been relatively unscathed by COVID-19, but the epidemic has worsened in the past two months with 224 deaths since the beginning of August for a total of 600.

“The closure of the border with Ghana has played a part in the resurgence of a third wave,” said a local official who wished to remain anonymous.


Truck are seen stationary at the customs in Noe, a border town between Ivory Coast and Ghana where residents have not been able to cross due to the COVID-19 pandemic on September 22, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


He argues that if authorities “open the border, require the vaccine and a PCR test, there will be fewer cases.”

But Noe’s deputy prefect, Losseny Dosso, insisted: “As long as there is an increase in cases, it would be irresponsible for the state to reopen the borders.”

Côte d’Ivoire Probing Minister Over Rape Allegation

Ivory Coast Map



Prosecutors in Côte d’Ivoire said Wednesday they had opened an investigation into a prominent minister who had been accused of rape by a young woman.

The probe focuses on the minister for reconciliation, Kouadio Konan Bertin, who also contested last year’s presidential election.

“The young woman filed a complaint with the police. A (judicial) investigation is underway,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that Bertin had filed a suit against her for libel.

“The two cases will be handled concurrently,” the office said.

In an audio message disseminated on the internet on Monday, an Ivorian-Cameroonian artist who said she had worked with Bertin alleged that in April she had been forcibly taken to Divo, a town 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of Abidjan, where she was raped.

Questioned about the allegation late Tuesday on the national TV station RTI, Bertin said he had “nothing to reproach myself for.”

He added, “This is a criminal case which is in the hands of justice.”

Bertin, 52, commonly known by his initials of KKB, was the only contender against presidential incumbent Alassane Ouattara in last October’s elections.

Other candidates boycotted the poll in protest at Ouattara’s bid for a third term, which they said sidestepped the constitution.

Bertin, who picked up only 1.99 percent of the vote, was appointed minister of national reconciliation two months later — a post aimed at healing the country’s dangerous political rift.

The high-profile allegation comes on the heels of a television show that sparked nationwide outrage in August by seeming to make light of rape.

TV host Yves de M’Bella had asked a man described as a former rapist to demonstrate, using a mannequin, how he violated his victims.

De M’Bella was handed a suspended jail sentence of 12 months for “condoning rape” while his guest was given a two-year term.

Ex-West Ham Striker Haller Stars As Côte d’Ivoire Beat Cameroon

Cameroon’s Bangou Tchamba (C) fights for the ball with Ivory Coast’s Serge Aurier (L) and Sebastien Haller (L) during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)



Former West Ham attacker Sebastien Haller scored twice in nine minutes to give the Ivory Coast a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over fellow African top-10 nation Cameroon in Abidjan on Monday. 

Haller, who moved to Ajax Amsterdam last January after scoring 14 goals in 54 outings for the Hammers, converted a penalty on 20 minutes and later outpaced a defender and fired into the far corner of the net.

Moumi Ngamaleu pulled one goal back from another penalty, on 61 minutes, to set up a tense finish to the Group D showdown.

Ivory Coast top the table with four points after two rounds, Cameroon have three, and Mozambique one and Malawi none ahead of their match on Tuesday.


Ivory Coast’s and Cameroon’s players fight for the ball during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


Cameroon’s goalkeeper Roger Devis Mboka concedes a goal during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


Group D is the only section of 10 in Africa featuring two countries among the 10 highest ranked in the continent — the Ivory Coast were 12th when the draw was made two years ago.

Meanwhile, South Africa edged Ghana 1-0 in Johannesburg through a 83rd-minute Bongokuhle Hlongwane goal and replaced them as Group G leaders.

Fielding a young, inexperienced side under recently hired Belgian coach Hugo Broos, the South Africans should have broken the deadlock earlier.


Ivory Coast’s Jean Evrard Kouassi (R) runs with ball next to Cameroon’s Nicolas Ngamaleu (L) and Bangou Tchamba (22) during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


Percy Tau, who has quit English Premier League club Brighton to join Egyptian and African giants Al Ahly, had a first-half headed goal wrongly disallowed for offside.

Evidence Makgopa, one of many new faces after Broos complained about inheriting an “old” squad, missed a sitter just after half-time, poking the ball wide of an unguarded goal.

But with time running out and weakened Ghana looking like taking a point home, Hlongwane connected with a low cross and the ball rolled into the net via the far post.

Ghana lacked Premier League trio Daniel Amartey, Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp as South Africa is on the British coronavirus “red list”, which requires travellers to isolate for 10 days when they return.


Ivorian national football team players celebrate after scoring a goal during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium in Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


– Goal-shy Uganda –

South Africa have four points and Ghana three from two matches, and Zimbabwe one and Ethiopia none ahead of their meeting in Bahir Dar on Tuesday.

Mali, who are seeking a first World Cup appearance, took a firm grip on Group E by forcing a 0-0 draw away to 10-man Uganda.

Defender Murushid Juuko was shown a straight red card on 65 minutes and Uganda had to settle for another goalless stalemate, after holding Kenya last week.

Benin failed to build on a matchday 1 win in Madagascar and had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Group J rivals the Democratic Republic of Congo in Cotonou.

Both goals were headed by senior players during the opening half with Dieumerci Mbokani, 35, putting the Congolese in front and Jordan Adeoti, 32, levelling.

Benin have four points and DR Congo two, while Tanzania, who have one, and pointless Madagascar face off in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

Niger equalled their record for the number of goal scored in a World Cup qualifier by coming from behind to trounce Djibouti 4-2 in Group A with Victorien Adebayor bagging a brace.

Djibouti are ranked 182nd in the world, making them the lowest of the 40 African World Cup hopefuls, and have conceded 12 goals in two outings.


Ivory Coast’s Cornet Maxwel (L) fights for the ball with Cameroon’s Andre Anguissa (8) during the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification football match between Ivory Coast and Cameroon at the Alassane Ouattara Ebimpe stadium Anyama on September 6, 2021. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)


The section is set to be dominated by African champions Algeria and Burkina Faso, both matchday 1 winners who clash on Tuesday in Morocco because the Burkinabe lack an international-standard stadium.

Djibouti, who have also created a base in Morocco, and Burkina Faso are among nine countries forced to use neutral venues either because the stadium facilities or the pitch are not up to scratch.

The Central African Republic and Liberia are other nations forced to play home matches abroad and they met in the Cameroonian port city of Douala, where Liberian Kpah Sherman scored the only goal.

Côte d’Ivoire Hails ‘Major’ Oil Discovery

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independance from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan. SIA KAMBOU / AFP
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independence from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan.



Côte d’Ivoire on Wednesday reported a “major discovery” of oil and natural gas offshore after deepwater exploration by Italian firm Eni.

Energy minister Thomas Camara said the find was estimated at between 1.5 and 2 billion barrels of oil and around 1.8-2.4 trillion cubic feet (51 million cubic metres) of gas.

He said the development would “greatly increase Côte d’Ivoire’s proven reserves in the coming years”.

The 3,445-metre-deep well was drilled about 60 kilometres (40 miles) off the coast in 30 days, Eni said.

The firm added that it would now carry out a further evaluation of the wider potential of the find.

In a 2019 investment worth $185 million, Ivory Coast signed contracts with Eni and French firm Total to explore the possibility of ramping up Ivorian production.

Côte d’Ivoire to date has 51 identified oilfields with four in production, 26 in exploration and the remaining 21 still up for grabs.

In 2014, Total said exploration had shown “very promising” prospects.

Aside from Total and Eni, Britain’s Tullow Oil has also announced significant discoveries of Ivorian offshore oil reserves in recent years.

Leading Côte d’Ivoire Political Figure Held In Mali

Mohamed Sess Soukou widely known as Ben Souck.



A prominent Ivorian political figure who has been sentenced to a 20-year jail term in absentia has been detained in Mali’s capital Bamako, his party and a Malian security source said Wednesday.

Mohamed Sess Soukou, also known as Ben Souck, “was arrested in the streets of Bamako by four men in civilian clothes wearing balaclavas,” his GPS party said in a statement.

“Under armed threat, Mr. Sess was forced to get into a 4×4 with tinted windows and without licence plates. He has been missing since then,” it said.

The arrest happened on Tuesday, the statement said.

A Malian security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “Ben Souck was detained for investigation. I cannot say more for the time being. He is well and all his rights are being respected.”

A Malian judicial source said Côte d’Ivoire had filed an arrest warrant against him.

Sess is a former MP and mayor of the town of Dabou, near Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic hub.

He is a leader of the Generations and Peoples in Solidarity (GPS) party founded by former prime minister Guillaume Soro, who was once a close ally of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara but fell out with him in early 2019 and went into exile.

In June, Soro was given a life sentence in absentia for fomenting “civil and military insurrection” when he tried to return home in December 2019.

Among the other defendants at the trial, Sess was given a 20-year term in absentia on a charge of endangering state security. The GPS party was ordered to be dissolved.

“We don’t know what they are accusing him of,” an ally of Sess said, adding that his supporters were hiring a lawyer.

Soro, 49, was a rebel leader whose forces controlled northern Côte d’Ivoire in the first decade of the century, during the turbulent presidency of Ouattara’s predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo.

It was Soro’s military help that tipped the situation in Ouattara’s favour when conflict erupted after Gbagbo refused to accept election defeat in October 2010 and was forced out of office.

Soro was rewarded with the appointment as Ouattara’s first prime minister, and then moved to the position of speaker of the National Assembly in 2012, a post he held until he and Ouattara fell out in 2019.

Drogba Bags Honorary Degree From Cote D’Ivoire University

Ivorian former football star Didier Drogba (C) poses for a photograph after receiving an Honorary degree from the University of Sciences and Technology of Africa network (RUSTA) in Abidjan on June 3, 2021. Issouf SANOGO / AFP


Former Chelsea and Cote D’Ivoire striker Didier Drogba has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Sciences and Technology of Africa Network (RUSTA) in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

Drogba according to the university was deserving of the award in recognition of his contributions to nation-building and restoration of peace in his country.

The 43-year-old in the company of his mother Clotilde Drogba received the degree in person at the university premises.

Ivorian former football star Didier Drogba (C) poses for a photograph after receiving an Honorary degree from the University of Sciences and Technology of Africa network (RUSTA) in Abidjan on June 3, 2021. PHOTO: Issouf SANOGO / AFP


The two-time African Footballer of the Year was honoured for his charitable work and his role in bringing stability to the West African country.

According to, Drogba’s peace-keeping contribution dates back to 2005 when he halted a civil war that had spanned three years after they secured qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup with a 3-1 win over Sudan.

Cote D’Ivore Election: African Court Opposes Bar On Ex-President Gbagbo

File Photo of ex-President of Cote D’Ivore, Laurent Gbagbo/ AFP


Cote D’Ivoire should allow former president Laurent Gbagbo, who has been barred from key presidential elections next month, to stand, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights said Friday.

It was the second time in 10 days that the court, established by African Union members in 2004, called on the Ivorian state to allow a barred candidate to take part in the tense October 31 election in the world’s top cocoa grower.

The court, based in Arusha in Tanzania, asked Ivory Coast to “take all necessary steps to immediately remove all obstacles” preventing Gbagbo from participating.

Ivory Coast withdrew its recognition of the court’s jurisdiction in April this year.

Gbagbo, who was president from 2000 to 2010, is not on the electoral roll which was updated this year, and thus cannot vote or be a candidate.

The Constitutional Council, Ivory Coast’s top court, has rejected 40 of 44 applications to contest the election, which is taking place against a backdrop of extreme tension.

Those barred include Gbagbo, 75, and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, 47, both of whom played key roles in the crisis that engulfed the country after disputed elections in 2010.

The Ivorian court, however, accepted an application by President Alassane Ouattara, 78, who is seeking a third term despite criticism that this sidesteps constitutional limits.

Gbagbo was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague after he was cleared in January 2019 of crimes against humanity. He is living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against the ICC ruling.


His candidacy was rejected by the Constitutional Council on the grounds that he was handed a 20-year jail term by an Ivorian court last November over the looting of the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the post-election crisis.

The African Court, whose ruling is provisional, also said Gbagbo’s conviction should not be included on his judicial record until it had time to deliver a full judgement.

On September 15, the African Court handed down a verdict in Soro’s favour, saying Ivory Coast should also “immediately remove all obstacles” preventing him from competing in the ballot.

Soro provided military help that enabled Ouattara to come to power after a civil war that erupted when Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in the 2010 election.

More than 3,000 people died in the fighting.

Soro, who lives today in France, was barred from contesting the election on the grounds of a 20-year sentence, also in absentia, for alleged embezzlement of public funds, handed down in April.

Ouattara has blasted attempts by Gbagbo and Soro to contest the presidential election as “provocation” and said one of them belongs behind bars.

“Soro, like Gbagbo, was excluded because he has a criminal record,” Ouattara told the French magazine Paris Match.

“Each of them is perfectly aware that their candidacies are based on provocation… Guillaume Soro doesn’t deserve to be on the campaign trail but in prison,” he said.

“This young man, drunk on money and power, has simply lost his head.”


Algeria Beat Côte d’Ivoire On Penalties To Reach Semi-Finals

Algerian players celebrate after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) quarter final football match between Ivory Coast and Algeria at the Suez stadium in Suez on July 11, 2019.
Giuseppe CACACE / AFP


Africa Cup of Nations title favourites Algeria defeated the Côte d’Ivoire 4-3 on penalties in Suez Thursday to the relief of Baghdad Bounedjah and set up a semi-final showdown with Nigeria.  

The quarter-final finished 1-1 after extra time with Sofiane Feghouli giving Algeria a 20th-minute lead that was cancelled by Jonathan Kodjia on 62 minutes.

In the shootout, Youcef Belaili struck the woodwork when he had a chance to clinch victory for Algeria, and then Côte d’Ivoire captain Serey Die hit the same post and his team were eliminated.

Forward Bounedjah missed a penalty in the second half of regular time and was visibly upset by his failure, fearing it would cost Algeria a first last-four place since 2010.

Algeria retained the team that started a last-16 demolition of Guinea, a result which confirmed the belief of many rival coaches that the Desert Foxes are the team to beat.

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Côte d’Ivoire coach Ibrahim Kamara changed two of the side that began an unimpressive 1-0 win over Mali in the first knockout round.

Midfielder Ibrahim Sangare and forward Max-Alain Gradel were selected to start in place of Jean-Philippe Gbamin and off-form Nicolas Pepe.

This was the eighth Cup of Nations meeting between the countries with Côte d’Ivoire holding a 3-2 lead and two matches were drawn.

Côte d’Ivoire was more impressive in the early exchanges before a modest crowd in a stadium overlooking the Suez Canal, a major shipping link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Algeria goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi finger-tipped a Gradel shot on to a post and Kodjia wasted a chance from close range after a cutback in 38 celsius (100 Fahrenheit) heat.

Serge Kanon was the next Ivorian to squander an opportunity to put the two-time champions in front, stabbing the ball wide from inside the six-yard area.

Against the run of play, Algeria went ahead when Feghouli connected with a Ramy Bensebaini cross and his snapshot flew past Sylvain Gbohouo.

Algeria had a great chance to go further ahead early in the second half when Bounedjah was fouled by Gbohouo, but he blazed the penalty against the crossbar and over.

The Ivorian Elephants were playing much better than in previous matches and equalised just past the hour mark, ending a 422-minute run by Mbolhi without conceding a goal in Egypt.

Crystal Palace flier Wilfried Zaha created the goal with a surging run down the middle from the centre circle before passing to Kodjia, who scored with a shot from just inside the box.


Cote D’Ivoire Star Zaha Commits To Palace

Crystal Palace’s Ivorian striker Wilfried Zaha (R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Crystal Palace at Craven Cottage in London on August 11, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP


Wilfried Zaha gave Crystal Palace a huge boost on Wednesday by signing a new contract which will see him tied to the Premier League club till the end of the 2022/23 campaign.

The 25-year-old Cote d’Ivoire forward — who is Palace’s joint highest Premier League scorer — has been a transfer target for several higher profile clubs.

However, Zaha, who has been with the Eagles since he was 12, has committed himself to Palace.

“Crystal Palace are delighted to announce that Wilfried Zaha has pledged his future to the club by signing a contract extension, which will see the Ivorian forward remain in south London until the end of the 2022/23 season,” read a club statement on their website.

Zaha, who played a pivotal role in Palace retaining their place in the elite last term scoring nine goals as they recovered after a woeful start to the season, said he was delighted to have the contract discussions out of the way.

“I’m very pleased,” he said.

“Obviously, I just wanted to get it over and done with, so I can just focus on the season. I’m buzzing that we managed to get it sorted.”

Palace chairman Steve Parish — who also persuaded manager Roy Hodgson to extend his contract last week — said it reflected Zaha’s loyalty to the club and the area of south London he grew up in.

“This agreement is yet another example of his lifelong commitment to the club and our commitment to him,” said Parish.

“This is an amazing day for everyone here at Palace, our supporters and of course Wilf – and is richly deserved.”

Zaha, who played a couple of times for England in friendlies which still allowed him the leeway to opt to play for the country of his birth Cote d’Ivoire, has been at Palace all his career save for an unhappy two-year spell at Manchester United but he attracted interest in the close season reportedly from the likes of Everton, Borussia Dortmund, and Chelsea.


Cote D’Ivoire’s President Grants Simone Gbagbo Amnesty

President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara


Cote d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara on Monday announced amnesties for around 800 people, including former first lady Simone Gbagbo who is currently behind bars, in the name of national reconciliation.

Last week, Cote d’Ivoire’s Supreme Court overturned an earlier acquittal granted to Gbagbo for crimes against humanity.

The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo, in power from 2000 to 2010, will “soon be freed,” Ouattara said during a televised address to the West African nation on the eve of the country’s independence day.

Simone Gbagbo has been serving a 20-year sentence handed to her in 2015 for “endangering state security”.

In this file photo taken on May 9, 2016, Ivory Coast’s former first lady Simone Gbagbo waves at her supporters as she arrives at Abidjan’s courthouse prior to the opening hearing of her trial over charges of crimes against humanity for her alleged role in the 2010 electoral violence. 


Laurent Gbagbo has been in detention at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for seven years.

Since 2016, he has been tried for alleged crimes against humanity during post-election unrest in 2010.

Among the others granted amnesties by Ouattara on Monday were former defence minister Lida Kouassi — a key ally of Laurent Gbagbo — who was sentenced this year to 15 years for conspiracy, and former construction minister Assoa Adou, jailed in 2017 for four years.

“On Monday I signed an amnesty order that will benefit about 800 citizens prosecuted or sentenced for offences related to the post-election crisis of 2010 or state security offences committed after May 21, 2011, (the date of Ouattara’s inauguration),” the president said in his address.

Around 500 of those named have already been released provisionally from detention, he added. They will have their criminal records erased.

The other 300 will be released “soon”, he added, without giving any dates.

The question of national reconciliation in Cote d’Ivoire, or the lack of it, has been seen by observers as a black mark against Ouattara.

About 3,000 people died in the turmoil that swept Abidjan — once one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities — in the aftermath of the November 2010 presidential polls when Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to bitter rival Ouattara.


Cote d’Ivoire Achieves Record Cocoa Production

The cocoa crop of Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest producer, increased 28.5 percent to a record 2.15 million tonnes in the 2016-17 season, the national Coffee and Cocoa Council said Friday.

Exports increased by 23.3 percent to 1.9 million tonnes, helping to raise the overall gross income of the country’s producers by 28.6 percent to 2.013 trillion CFA francs (3.2 billion euros, $3.8 billion), compared to 1.565 trillion the previous season.

But the year was “marked by a deep crisis,” said Lambert Kouassi Konan, chairman of the board of directors at industry regulator Coffee and Cocoa Council, because world prices of “brown gold” fell by more than a third.

Konan took stock of the year’s crop in the capital Abidjan on Friday at the opening of the fourth national cocoa and chocolate days, which run until Sunday and also marked the opening of the 2017-18 season.

While the minimum price guaranteed to farmers was 1,100 CFA francs per kilo at the start of the 2016-17 season, the Ivorian government had to lower the price to 700 CFA francs in April due to falling prices in international markets, which was linked to overproduction in relation to demand and aggravated by the weakness of the pound against the euro, Konan said.

The pound is the main currency used for cocoa trading, which is mainly done in London.

Konan also mentioned problems with inventory management and failures of operators to explain the year’s difficulties, as well as mutinies in the Ivorian army that scared markets earlier in the year.

The price guaranteed to Ivorian cocoa producers for the 2017-18 season will be revealed on Sunday, Konan said.

The cocoa industry, which accounts for 15 percent of GDP and more than 50 percent of export receipts — as well as two-thirds of jobs — is absolutely vital to the country’s economic welfare, according to the World Bank.