Ex-Ivorian Leader Gbagbo, Sentenced For Corruption, Gets Presidential Pardon

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo gestures as he enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019. Peter Dejong / ANP / AFP

 

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara announced Saturday that he had pardoned his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, who faced a 20-year jail term for a 2018 conviction over political unrest.

“In the interests of strengthening social cohesion, I have signed a decree granting a presidential pardon,” Ouattara said in a speech to mark the 62nd anniversary of the country’s independence.

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The president said he had asked that Gbagbo’s bank accounts be unfrozen and that his life annuity be paid.

Ouattara also said he had signed a decree for the conditional release of two of Gbagbo’s closest associates, former navy chief Vagba Faussignaux and a former commander of a key gendarmerie unit, Jean-Noel Abehi, both convicted for their role in the post-election unrest.

Gbagbo was acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes committed during the 2011 civil conflict that broke out after he refused to recognise Ouattara’s victory in presidential elections a year earlier.

But in 2018, an Ivorian court handed Gbagbo a 20-year term in absentia over the looting of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) during the country’s post-election crisis.

After his acquittal by the ICC, Gbagbo returned from exile in 2021 and launched a new political party, but he has kept a low profile since, despite having said he wants to remain in politics until his death.

Since his return to the country, there had been no attempt to imprison him on the basis of the 2018 conviction.

 A ‘fraternal meeting’

The announcement of the pardon comes just weeks after a meeting on July 14 between Outtara, Gbagbo and another former president, Henri Konan Bedie.

Ouattara, in his speech Saturday, described that occasion as a “fraternal meeting” in which the three men had “discussed, in a friendly atmosphere, matters of the national interest and the ways and means of consolidating peace in our country”.

Both Gbagbo and Bedie have been invited to attend independence day celebrations on Sunday at Yamoussoukro, the country’s political capital.

In 2020, the ex-presidents had challenged Outtara’s candidacy for a new term — which they deemed unconstitutional — with that election also leading to political violence.

But reconciliation efforts began the following year during legislative elections, which took place without major incident.

Though Ouattara’s party won that poll, it did allow for the return of the opposition to the National Assembly, including Gbagbo’s supporters, who had boycotted every election since his defeat in 2010 after 10 years in power.

A “political dialogue” between the government, parties and civil society organisations is currently underway with the aim of allowing local polls in 2023 and the next presidential election in 2025 to go ahead without violence.

Ivorian political life has been dominated for more than 20 years by Ouattara, Bedie and Gbagbo, aged 80, 88, and 77, respectively.

Côte d’Ivoire Announces New Oil, Gas Discovery

Policemen are seen in front of the Sapet Gas, an LPG Tanker built in 2022 and currently sailing under the flag of Marshall Islands, as it’s moored at the port of Abidjan on July 26, 2022. The vessel is the first Ivorian vessel used to import butane gas by Pertroci Holding and Sahara Group. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

 

Côte d’Ivoire reported a fresh discovery of offshore oil and natural gas by Italian firm Eni on Thursday, expanding the potential of reserves found last year by 25 percent.

In September 2021, the country had announced a find of deposits estimated at between 1.5 and 2 billion barrels of oil and around 1.8-2.4 trillion cubic feet (51-68 million cubic metres) of gas.

The latest discovery off the eastern coast “increases by about 25 percent” the previously announced deposits, the ministry for mines, oil and energy said in a statement, with extraction due to start in early 2023.

President Alassane Ouattara has said he wants Côte d’Ivoire to become a major oil producer. The West African nation’s current output is modest, at around 30,000 barrels per day.

International companies including French giant Total and Britain’s Tullow Oil have also announced significant discoveries of Ivorian offshore oil reserves in recent years.

WAFU B U17: Golden Eaglets Are Ready For Cote D’Ivoire Clash, Says Ugbade

A file photo of Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets during a training session.

 

Golden Eaglets Head Coach, Nduka Ugbade, has given an assurance that his team will give their best against their Ivorian counterparts in Tuesday’s first semi-final match of the ongoing WAFU B U17 Championship in Cape Coast, Ghana.

Both teams will clash at the 15,000 –capacity stadium at 3pm Ghana time (4pm Nigeria time) before the second semi-final between hosts Ghana and Burkina Faso at the same venue.

“The match against Cote d’Ivoire is of high importance to us,” said Ugbade. “In fact, I have reminded the players that this one is the biggest match of their lives.

“They must win to secure a ticket to the U17 Africa Cup of Nations, and from there to the U17 World Cup, and from there to several opportunities and possibilities. Whatever we have done here (beating Ghana and Togo) will not mean much if we don’t go all out and grab our ticket to the AFCON and to the Final. We will throw everything into the fray.”

The Eaglets, five-time world champions, thrashed Ghana’s Black Starlets 4-2 in the tournament’s opener and then eased past Togo’s Young Sparrowhawks 3-1 to finish as Group A winners. The Ivorians finished as runners-up of Group B, dominated by Burkina Faso’s Young Etalons.

Victory in Tuesday’s encounter will send the Eaglets into the final and with an opportunity to reclaim the WAFU B U17 title they won in Niamey, Niger Republic four years ago.

It also provides the Nigerian youngsters a revenge platform against the Ivorians, who defeated them in the final of the same competition in Lome early last year.

Both Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire qualified for the Africa U17 Cup of Nations from that tournament but the event was cancelled as hosts Morocco developed cold feet with the COVID-19 pandemic still biting in some countries.

WAFU B Tournament: Flying Eagles To Tackle Cote d’Ivoire For U-20 AFCON Ticket

Photo of the U-20 Flying Eagles

 

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles will confront Cote d’Ivoire in the second semi-final of the ongoing WAFU B U-20 Championship in Niamey, the Niger Republic on Tuesday, May 17th.

Nigeria emerged winners of group B while the Ivory Coast finished as the second-placed team in Group A,

What is up for grabs on Tuesday? A ticket to next year’s Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Egypt which will take place from 18th February to 12th March 2023. Only the two finalists from the WAFU B tournament will qualify for the eight-team competition in Egypt.

Coach Ladan Bosso’s boys will file out against the Ivorians at the Stade General Seyni Kountché at 8 pm, after the first semi-final between the Benin Republic and Burkina Faso at the same venue.

Ibrahim Muhammad and Ahmed Abdullahi scored the goals that consigned African champions Ghana to a 2-0 defeat last Sunday before the Flying Eagles drew 2-2 with Burkina Faso on Wednesday. The latter’s 2-1 defeat of Ghana earned them a place in the last four.

Despite scorer Ahmed Abdullahi’s injury that has knocked him out of the tournament, Coach Bosso is confident that his team will rise to the occasion against the Ivorians and qualify for the competition in Egypt.

Côte d’Ivoire Artist Recasts Old Mobile Phones Into Art

Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi makes an artwork with used telephone keyboards at his residence in Bingerville, a commune of Abidjan, on April 28, 2022. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

 

 

Stitching together discarded mobile phone keyboards to make art, Ivorian artist Mounou Desire Koffi hopes to raise awareness about pollution.

“I wanted to contribute something new,” said the artist, whose work is on display in Abidjan until July.

In his studio in Bingerville, near the Côte d’Ivoiren business capital, the 28-year-old describes himself as “young contemporary artist” who wants to stand out from the crowd.

“I’ve been passionate about drawing since childhood. It was always me the teacher would send to the blackboard to illustrate lessons,” he says.

 

Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi (R) poses for a photo with visitors behind his artwork made with used telephone keyboards during his show’s opening at the Donwahi foundation in Abidjan on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

When he decided he wanted to go to art school, his parents, who worked as farmers in southwestern Ivory Coast, had no idea what it was. His art teacher had to visit to persuade them to let him go.

After graduating at the top of his class from the Abidjan Art School, he started looking for old mobile phone keyboards and screens on roadsides, in gutters and in rubbish tips.

 

A woman films an artwork by Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi during his exhibition opening at the Donwahi foundation in Abidjan on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

“Now I have a whole team that is paid according to the quality of what they turn up with,” he says.

“I told them: ‘Stop throwing things away. Bring them to me and we can work with them.'”

 

The Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi traces an image on used telephone keyboards he uses to make his artworks on April 28, 2022 in Bingerville, a town in Abidjan. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

– ‘Solve a problem’ –
In his studio, someone has dropped off bags brimming with mobile phone spare parts.

Koffi dives into a pile of keyboards and screens to find those he needs.

Placing them side by side on the canvas, he creates colourful human silhouettes in urban settings.

Some of his works sell for up to $1,500.

 

A woman films an artwork by Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi during his exhibition opening at the Donwahi foundation in Abidjan on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

He says the aim is to try to “solve a problem” in a country where rubbish sorting is almost non-existent, and most household waste ends up in piles in the street.

“Most of my works reflect man’s day-to-day existence in society,” he said.

“I think phones are the tools that are most close to us at the moment. We have almost everything stored in our phones.”

 

Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi cuts out an image on the screen of his artwork reproduced on a carpet of used telephone keyboards in Bingerville, a commune of Abidjan, on April 28, 2022.  (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

The artist, who had exhibited his works in Morocco, Belgium and France, says his works seek to spark reflection about waste.

“We find all sorts of things in our dustbins… I’m trying to make people more aware.”

 

The Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi (C) looks for used telephone keyboards he uses for making artworks in Koumassi, a district of Abidjan, on December 19, 2021. (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

Keen to reflect current debates, Koffi has in his paintings portrayed pollution, but also floods, traffic jams and child soldiers.

One of his latest series, titled “Life here”, recounts daily life in Abidjan.

 

Workers of the Ivorian artist Mounou Désiré Koffi (not seen) fix the reproduced image on a carpet, one of the stages in the making of artworks with used telephone keyboards in Bingerville, a commune of Abidjan, on April 28, 2022.  (Photo by Sia KAMBOU / AFP)

 

After a first exhibition in the coastal town of Bassam, his work is now on show until July at the capital’s Donwahi Foundation.

Super Falcons Beat Cote D’Ivoire To Qualify For 2022 Africa Women’s Cup Of Nations

File Photo of the Super Falcons.

 

Nigeria have qualified for this year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations holding in Morocco after the Super Falcons produced a brave performance to defeat the Lady Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire 1-0 in Abidjan.

The result secured an aggregate 3-0 win for the nine-time African champions following Wednesday’s win.  The hosts threw all they had in the return leg encounter at the Stade Robert Champroux but met an unshakable Nigerian defence and an inspired goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie who was outstanding.

Coach Randy Waldrum made two changes to the starting line-up from the first leg, bringing in midfielder Regina Otu and forward Francisca Ordega. The lively Ordega thought she had given Nigeria the lead halfway into the first period but the Nigerien referee ruled it out.

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In the 34th minute, Nigerien referee Zouwaira Souley awarded a penalty to the homers after judging that Ashleigh Plumptre had tripped an Ivorian striker in the Nigerian area. Goalkeeper Nnadozie saved the shot, and the contact from the same player off the rebound went into the side-netting.

The Super Falcons dug their feet into the ground in the second half, refusing to give the Lady Elephants any leeway. Plumptre, Captain Onome Ebi, Osinachi Ohale, and Michelle Alozie all held their ground as the Elephants increased their onslaughts.

A minute to the end, Esther Okoronkwo, winning only her second cap for Nigeria, scored the back-breaker that confirmed a 3-0 aggregate win for the Super Falcons. Victory and qualification for Morocco 2022 was sweet revenge over the Ivorian ladies who stopped the Falcons from qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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.
SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

 

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.