Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara offered a hearty welcome to his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday as the rivals met for the first time since the country’s deadly 2010-11 conflict.
“How are you Laurent? Happy to see you,” Ouattara said as Gbagbo arrived at the presidential palace in the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan.
In the last months of his stormy rule from 2000 to 2011, Gbagbo rejected defeat by Ouattara in a presidential ballot.
The ensuing conflict claimed more than 3,000 lives. After he was ousted, Gbagbo was flown to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity, of which he was eventually acquitted.
Commentators will be scrutinising Tuesday’s meeting for signs of whether the two former rivals have buried the hatchet, boosting hopes for national rapprochement after deadly clashes last year.