Ivorian president meets ex-leaders for unity talks

 Ivorian president meets ex-leaders for unity talks

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara held a meeting with his predecessors Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié in an effort to reconcile the country.

The three long-time rivals have monopolised political life in Ivory Coast for over a quarter of a century.

On Thursday, President Ouattara welcomed Mr Gbagbo and Mr Bédié to a warm reception at the presidential palace where they held talks for more than an hour.

At the end, Mr Gbagbo read a brief statement to journalists, saying: “Today’s meeting was a reunion to renew contact and exchange in truth on the major issues of the nation”.

The trio said they hoped that the meeting would be a sign of the improved political climate in Ivory Coast.

The meeting was one of the recommendations of talks between the government and the opposition held earlier this year to calm tensions in the country.

President Ouattara expressed optimism that such meetings would become regular so that he can take his predecessors’ opinions and recommendations and give them an opportunity to share their experience and their knowledge of the country.

This was the trio’s first meeting together since a bitter civil war in 2010.