Gbagbo supporters stage Hague protest

24th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Several hundred supporters of ex-Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo on Saturday protested outside the International Criminal Court prison where he is spending a first Christmas behind bars.

"We are celebrating Christmas here with the president and even if he cannot see us, we think he does hear us," Abel Neki, president of the pan-African CRI association, told an AFP journalist at the prison.

The supporters, mainly from France, gathered outside the International Criminal Court's detention unit in the seaside suburb of Scheveningen, where Gbagbo has been locked up since his transfer to The Hague on November 30.

The first former head-of-state to be surrendered to the ICC, Gbagbo, 66, was imprisoned in The Hague after being transferred by plane from northern Ivory Coast, where he has been under house arrest since April.

He faces charges before the ICC for his involvement in crimes committed during five months of post-presidential election violence after the restive west African country's disputed November 2010 polls.

Gbagbo's refusal to hand over the reigns to his long-time political opponent and now President Alassane Ouattara plunged the world's top cocoa-grower into a deadly crisis which the United Nations said claimed around 3,000 lives.

Organisers said a previous demonstration to support Gbagbo, held on December 10 in front of the ICC headquarters, attracted around 2,000 people. Police put the figure at 600.

Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) party earlier this month won the greatest number of seats in the Ivorian parliament in elections which were boycotted by Gbagbo's camp.

© 2011 AFP

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