The visit would have been unthinkable just months ago. Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has arrived in the country’s second city of Bouake, stronghold of rebel forces led by Guillaume Soro. The visit is a symbol of national reconciliation after years of civil war. Laurent Gbagbo said “I am happy because has regained its unity. That is what I was aiming for. I am happy.” Gbagbo’s visit is being marked by a Flame of Peace ceremony to burn weapons. It is the start of a disarmament process. Among the thousands in the crowds were Gbagbo supporters known as the Young Patriots. Their leader Blé Goudé said the visit was “a symbol of an African country finding a solution for its people on its own without UN involvement. This is why we are happy because we want this to be an example for all of Africa”. President Laurent Gbagbo signed a peace deal with former rebel commander Guillaume Soro in March. Soro was appointed prime minister under the agreement. Elections are due early next year.
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