Laurent Gbagbo and the evangelical church in Côte d’Ivoire

Ambiguous political affinities


  • Bony Guiblehon


Laurent Gbagbo, Alassane Ouattara, prophecies, political, religious, evangelical Church, globalisation


This article attempts to understand and analyse the relationship between politics and religion in Ivory Coast. The relationship between the former President Laurent Gbagbo and the Evangelical Church expresses this relationship that has always existed between the two entities in a spirit of religious freedom recognized by the Head of the State by all citizens and the impact that this relationship had on the evolution of the Ivorian crisis. Since colonial times to the time of independence, from Felix Houphouët Boigny to Henri Konan Bédié, to Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, they have all forged close ties with their religious community. The case of the former President Laurent Gbagbo with the Evangelical Church of Ivory Coast is an interesting example: first, because of his particular relationship of both proximity and distance, and then because of the accusations of both national and international media and of the political opposition against Laurent Gbagbo for his connections with the leaders of evangelical churches. The latter were accused of having been led to believe that Laurent Gbagbo was God’s choice when he lost the election. In fact, Evangelical pastors have developed the doctrine of the personal or individual predestination through divine revelation which makes Laurent Gbagbo God’s choice and the other political protagonists outcasts. The religious dimension has become a register of legitimation of political power with an impact on popular imagination. This was followed by violence against the Evangelical Church. However, the interference between politics and religion raises the question of the separation of both areas, but also of the globalisation of the present religious phenomena.

Author Biography

Bony Guiblehon

Bony Guiblehon  is an anthropologist and since 2005 research professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Bouaké, Ivory Coast. He studied in France at the Faculty of Theology in Vaux-sur-Seine, at the School of Language and Civilization of the former East (ELCO, Catholic Institute of Paris). His doctoral dissertation in anthropology (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris-Sorbonne, 2004) examines the beliefs and ritual practices of “panther-men” and masks among the Wè and the interference of religion and ethnicity in the political context in Ivory Coast. He is a member of the Society of Africanists (France), of the Centre of African Studies of the Worlds (CE-MAF) as well as president of the Foundation “Secularism and Social Cohesion – Ivory Coast”. He has several publications to his credit.