Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Ivory Coast, greets his supporters upon arrival at Abidjan International Airport
Photo: Leo Correa / dpa
The former head of state of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, has returned to his home country after almost ten years abroad.
Gbagbo travels from Brussels to the capital Abidjan on Thursday, as AFP reporters reported on the spot.
The police used tear gas against Gbagbo's supporters who wanted to meet the former head of state at the airport.
He was happy to be "returning to the Ivory Coast and Africa," Gbagbo later said to supporters of his FPI party.
In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague upheld Gbagbo's acquittal in a trial for crimes against humanity.
This paved the way for the return from Belgium to his homeland.
After ten years in power, Gbagbo did not acknowledge his defeat in the presidential election in 2010 and refused to transfer the office to the election winner and president Alassane Ouattara, who is still in office to this day.
More than 3,000 people were killed in subsequent unrest.
Gbagbo was eventually evicted from office, arrested in northern Ivory Coast in April 2011 and later extradited to the ICC.
Head of state Ouattara gave the green light for his rival to return at the beginning of April.
The permission for Gbagbo to return home is a clear sign that the political situation in the West African country has eased.
However, Gbagbo's arrival in Abidjan has now been overshadowed by clashes with security forces.
Dozens of his followers tried to make their way to the airport on Thursday.
The police had blocked the access roads and only allowed people with airline tickets to pass.
From the airport, Gbagbo then drove through the city to the Attoban district, where his old election headquarters are located.
Several hundred people gathered there to receive him.
mjm / AFP