Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo filed for divorce on Monday, from his wife of three decades, his lawyer said, days after his highly anticipated return to the country.
Gbagbo’s lawyer Claude Mentenon said in a statement that after years of “repeated rejected requests for Simone Ehivet to consent to an amicable separation”, the ex-president had asked an Abidjan court for a divorce.
The announcement comes four days after Gbagbo returned to Ivory Coast following a decade’s absence, during which he was tried for crimes against humanity during the post-election conflict of 2010-11.
Simone Gbagbo wielded significant political influence as first lady, and was arrested alongside her husband in April 2011 after he refused to concede defeat, sparking a conflict that left some 3,000 people dead.
Gbagbo was sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he was definitively acquitted in March after a lengthy trial.
Simone Gbagbo was sentenced to 20 years’ prison in Ivory Coast for “violating state security”, but was released in 2018 after seven years of detention as part of an amnesty.
Gbagbo’s homecoming comes after his once-bitter rival, current President Alassane Ouattara, embraced his return in the name of national reconciliation.
Laurent and Simone Gbagbo, who have two daughters, married in 1989 and campaigned alongside each other for the introduction of multi-party elections in the 1990s.
The 76-year-old ex-president, has been in a relationship for several years with 47-year-old former journalist Nady Bamba.