The 76-year-old arrives in Abidjan after ICC judges earlier this year upheld his 2019 acquittal on charges related to 2011 post-election violence.
Former President Laurent Gbagbo has returned to Ivory Coast for the first time since his arrest nearly 10 years ago following his acquittal by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The 76-year-old, who was in power since 2000, was sent to The Hague-based court in 2011 after some 3,000 people were killed in a months-long conflict that followed his refusal to accept electoral defeat at the hands of incumbent President Alassane Ouattara.
He was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, but was acquitted by the ICC in 2019. Judges upheld the ruling earlier this year, paving the way for his return on Thursday.
Gbagbo arrived in the country’s economic hub, Abidjan, on Thursday a commercial flight from Brussels, with large crowds gathering to welcome him.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the airport in Abidjan, said the situation in the city was “quite tense” in the hours before his arrival as many Gbagbo supporters tried to approach the site.
“The police barricaded the entire area close to the airport, and there were some incidents where they used tear gas to disperse crowds,” he said.
More to follow.