Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo

Laurent Koudou Gbagbo (born 31 May 1945) served as the fourth President of Côte d'Ivoire from 2000 until his arrest in April 2011. A historian by profession, he is also an amateur chemist and physicist.

Gbagbo was imprisoned in the early 1970s and again in the early 1990s, and he lived in exile in France during much of the 1980s as a result of his union activism. Gbagbo founded the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) in 1982 and ran unsuccessfully for President against Félix Houphouët-Boigny at the start of multi-party politics in 1990. Eventually he won a seat in the National Assembly of Côte d'Ivoire.

Gbagbo became president after Robert Guéï, head of a military junta, barred other leading politicians from running against Gbagbo in the October 2000 presidential election. Gbagbo claimed victory after the election and his supporters took to the streets toppling Guéï. Gbagbo was then installed as President.

Following the 2010 presidential election, Gbagbo challenged the vote count, alleged fraud, and refused to stand down. He called for the annulment of results from nine of the country's regions. Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner and was recognized as such by election observers, the international community, the African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States. However, the Constitutional Council, which according to Article 94 of the Ivorian Constitution both determines disputes in and proclaims the results of Presidential elections, declared that Gbagbo had won. After a short period of civil conflict, Gbagbo was arrested by the Republican Army of Ivory Coast. In November, he was extradited to the International Criminal Court, becoming the first head of state to be taken into the court's custody.

Early life and academic career
Gbagbo was born in the village of Mama, near Gagnoa. He became a history professor and an opponent of the regime of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. He was imprisoned from 31 March 1971 to January 1973. In 1979, he obtained his doctorate at Paris Diderot University (French: Université Paris Diderot, also known as Université Paris 7 – Denis Diderot). In 1980, he became Director of the Institute of History, Art, and African Archeology at the University of Abidjan. He participated in a 1982 teachers' strike as a member of the National Trade Union of Research and Higher Education. Gbagbo went into exile in France in the same year.

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