, THE HAGUE, Aug 13 – Hundreds of supporters of ex-Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo protested on Monday in The Hague where the former west African leader is awaiting an International Criminal Court hearing.
Organisers said 2,000 people attended the rally at the city’s central Malieveld common, having travelled by bus mainly from France, Belgium, Italy, Norway and Switzerland. Police put the number at 500-600.
“We want to tell president Gbagbo that he is not alone and that he enjoys the affection of the majority of Ivorians,” Simplice Seri Zokou, spokesman for the organising Committee for Directing the Actions of Ivorian Diaspora (CPAD) told AFP.
“We know an injustice has been done to him,” Zokou added as protesters dressed in the Ivorian orange, white and green chanted “Free Gbagbo” in the background.
Gbagbo, 67, was supposed to appear Monday before the ICC for a hearing to confirm four charges of crimes against humanity against him for his role violence in the rest west African country following disputed elections in 2010.
But the hearing was postponed to await a health report from doctors after the defence earlier this month questioned his fitness to come to court.
The first former head of state to be surrendered to the ICC, Gbagbo was imprisoned in The Hague in November after being transferred by plane from northern Ivory Coast, where he had been under house arrest since April 2011.
The charges against him relate to his involvement in crimes committed during five months of post-presidential election violence after November 2010 polls.
Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over the reins to his long-time 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.