Laurent Gbagbo

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Laurent Koudou Gbagbo (French pronunciation: [loʁɑ̃ baɡbo]; born May 31, 1945)[2] is an Ivorian politician who has served as the President of Côte d'Ivoire since 2000.

A history teacher by profession, Gbagbo was one of the primary opponents of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. He founded the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) in 1982 and unsuccessfully ran for President against Houphouët-Boigny at the start of multi-party politics in 1990. When Robert Guéï, heading a military junta, barred other leading politicians from running against him in the October 2000 presidential election, Gbagbo was left as the only significant opposition candidate. Gbagbo claimed victory after the election and his supporters took to the streets, toppling Guéï; Gbagbo was installed as President.

Following the 2010 presidential election, Gbagbo has been urged to stand down in favour of Alassane Ouattara by the international community, including the Economic Community of West African States of which Côte d'Ivoire is currently a suspended member.

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Early life and political career

Gbagbo was born in the village of Mama, near Gagnoa. He became a history professor and an opponent of the regime of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. He was imprisoned from March 31, 1971 to January 1973. In 1979, he obtained his doctorate at Paris Diderot University (French: Université Paris Diderot, also known as Université Paris 7 - Denis Diderot). In 1980, he became Director of the Institute of History, Art, and African Archeology at the University of Abidjan. He participated in a 1982 teachers' strike as a member of the National Trade Union of Research and Higher Education, and at this time he formed what would become the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI). Gbagbo went into exile in France in the same year. He returned to Côte d'Ivoire on September 13, 1988 and at the FPI's constitutive congress, held on November 19–20, 1988, he was elected as the party's Secretary-General.[2]

Gbagbo said in July 2008 that he had received crucial support from Blaise Compaoré, currently the President of Burkina Faso, while he was part of the underground opposition to Houphouët-Boigny.[3]

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