Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Côte d’Ivoire is on the path to validate the ideas of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and ignite a new momentum of struggle for Pan Africanism and Socialism. In a speech given during the launch of his new political party, the African Peoples Party (APP) on October 17 in Abidjan, the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire, Gbagbo declared: “if we had listened to Nkrumah, Africa would not be in this mess.”
He told the crowds, “Nkrumah told us that the path to development and prosperity lies in the unity of the African people under the broad banner of Pan Africanism and Socialism… Divided we are weak and even not viable states. We must unite and pull our resources together to fight ignorance, disease and all manifestations of poverty.”
The newly launched African Peoples Party is ideologically and politically committed to Pan Africanism and Socialism and has a special appeal to the African diaspora.
Who is Laurent Gbagbo?
Gbagbo was removed from office as President of Côte d’Ivoire in 2011 in a bloody coup carried out by French troops with the assistance of a rebel group made up of Ivorian dissidents and mercenaries from some West African states.
He was subsequently put in prison for 10 years while being tried for crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The court eventually found him innocent of all the charges leveled against him.
Gbagbo told the cheering crowd that he was not a prisoner, “I was a hostage. They were keeping me away so somebody [else] could rule Côte d’Ivoire”.
He said Africa can only make substantial progress if its people take control of their resources and exploit them for their own benefit.
“This is what Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and Patrice Lumumba taught us,” he said.
For Gbagbo, the solutions to the problems of Africa can be found on the continent and that frequent visits to the colonial metropolis can be wasteful. He explained that “any time we go to the Western capitals, they think we are going to beg for assistance.”
“This is because they don’t respect us. We are divided and small. A united Africa can stand up to any power in the world,” he said.
Gbagbo also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all Ivorian political prisoners such as Charles Ble Goude, the former Minister of Youth, who has also recently set free by the International Criminal Court.
“Most of these people are in prison because of me. I am out now, so what are they doing in prison,” he asked.
Johnson Aseidu Nketiah, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, a political party in Ghana, was also present at the launch. He said his party has a long standing relationship with former President Gbagbo and that they “will work closely with the new party in the fight against all forms of exploitation and poverty in Africa”. He asked Gbagbo to focus on issues of development and not be vindictive.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr. is the managing editor of The Insight, a daily newspaper based in Accra, Ghana.