Accra, Dec 16, GNA – Former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo, has expressed regrets of not having the opportunity to extend gratitude to former President Jerry John Rawlings, before he passed away in November last year.
A statement issued by the Office of the late former President, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said former President Gbagbo who called on former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and the family, said he had looked forward to saying thank you to President Rawlings so much so that news of his loss came as a real shock to him.
“President Rawlings was the strongest amongst us his compatriots, so it was difficult to believe he had passed. He was very authentic and real,” Mr Gbagbo said.
The former Ivorian leader said he was very much aware of the significant support President Rawlings gave him and how he spoke passionately about the error of his incarceration while others conveniently kept quiet.
President Gbagbo returned to Cote d’Ivoire in June this year after being incarcerated for ten years by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He was acquitted in 2019 and the court upheld the acquittal earlier this year.
Former President Gbagbo said soon after his return he yearned for an opportunity to come and commiserate with the Rawlings family and was finally relieved that he had fulfilled that mission.
The statement said President Gbagbo also visited the tomb of President Rawlings on Saturday with members of his delegation, where he laid a wreath.
It said receiving the former Ivorian President, Mrs Agyeman-Rawlings, said she was extremely happy to see Mr Gbagbo.
She added that she was “waiting for a time when Africans can say enough is enough with Europeans deciding how we should manage our countries”.
Mrs Agyeman-Rawlings recalled how late President Rawlings did not hesitate to bring up the subject of how “shabbily” President Gbagbo had been treated.
“Each time President Rawlings met a delegation he will talk about you (President Gbagbo) so that the media will carry it; that what is being done to President Gbagbo is unfair, unacceptable and how Africans cannot do the same to any European Head of State,” Mrs Agyeman-Rawlings recalled.
The statement said the former First Lady thanked former President Gbagbo and his colleagues for fighting for his liberties and was happy he looked well after all the pain he had been through.
It said she was hopeful that the former President will continue to impart his ideas and ideals to his people to encourage national development.
Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle, said her father, former President Rawlings, took the matter of President Gbagbo personally and lamented bitterly about how he had been treated.
She said President Rawlings felt the failure of ECOWAS to impartially intervene in the matter was the ultimate betrayal by the regional body.
The statement said former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also called on Mrs Agyeman-Rawlings and her family to commiserate with the family.
It said former President Sirleaf was in Accra to participate in the second Kofi Annan Peace and Security forum organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).
It noted that the former Liberian leader who had a long-standing relationship with Mrs Agyeman-Rawlings, said she decided to check on the family after her condolence visit last December.
The statement said she was delighted to see Mrs Agyeman-Rawlings and the rest of the family doing well.
The meeting also discussed political developments on the continent, it said.
Source: Ghana News Agency