Pulchérie Gbalet, activist in all the struggles in Ivory Coast

This is his last fight to date

Pulchérie Gbalet, activist in all the struggles in Ivory Coast

This is his last fight to date. A figure in Ivorian civil society imprisoned on several occasions, Pulchérie Gbalet is now at the head of the Coalition of Victims and Those Threatened with Evictions (Covimede-CI), an organization created to defend residents evicted during the destruction of precarious neighborhoods carried out since February by the public authorities in Abidjan.

On Wednesday March 20, in front of a handful of journalists invited to a small meeting room in the commune of Cocody, representatives of the evicted populations and several civil society organizations described the multiplication of these “evictions” as “planned unconstitutional impoverishment.” . A smartphone placed on a tripod records the conversation and retransmits it on the Facebook page of the president of the new coalition, Pulchérie Gbalet, dressed that day in a t-shirt crossed out with the slogan “Let’s make Africa shine”.


A sociologist by training and former union official at the National Bureau of Technical Studies and Development (BNETD), where she worked from 1998 to 2020, the 51-year-old activist began to make herself known in 2016 by publicly opposing the new Constitution which allows President Alassane Ouattara to run for a third term. Four years later, at the head of Ivorian Citizen Alternative, a civil society organization close to the opposition, she called for peaceful demonstrations a few weeks before the election in which Alassane Ouattara ultimately contested.

She was arrested on the night of August 15 to 16, 2020 and incarcerated for eight months at the Abidjan Detention and Correction Center (MACA). “I lived my detention in reflection to better engage myself,” she recounts today. Especially since I was unfairly dismissed following my arrest. I therefore had to reorganize my professional life around citizen struggle. » It was during this period that the hashtag appeared

But in 2022, she made the mistake of going to Bamako for a series of meetings with local civil society and the Ivorian diaspora, while 49 Ivorian soldiers were being held in Mali and diplomatic tension was at its height between the authorities of both countries. On her return to Abidjan on August 22, she was arrested again, accused of “agreement with agents of a foreign power likely to harm the military and diplomatic situation of Côte d’Ivoire.”

“The conditions of my incarceration were more severe than the first time,” she says. I couldn't have visitors outside of my family. » After five months of detention, the activist was released on February 6, 2023, but was deprived of the right to leave the national territory without authorization and to speak publicly on the affair of the 49 soldiers, released in the meantime.

“Humanitarian disaster”

It doesn't matter to him, it seems. Since her appearance on the public scene, Pulchérie Gbalet has been in all the fights. In addition to "the fight against the current unconstitutional third mandate", she cites "the fight against the high cost of living, the fight for reconciliation and the return of lasting peace and the fight for better conditions of detention and for the detainees’ right to justice.” But also “the restoration of a rule of law through the fight against injustices and abuses”, which includes first of all “the fight against abusive evictions”.

For Pulchérie Gbalet, their recent acceleration is a harbinger of a “planned humanitarian disaster”. “It is not the role of the State,” she said, “to place citizens in social insecurity with unspeakable coldness, in defiance of the Constitution and all texts on the subject. »

With Covimede-CI, it hopes to offer “all victims and those threatened with eviction to unite their abilities to give strength to their demands, in a context where public authorities voluntarily close dialogue and violate the texts with impunity”. The activist urges the government to “enforce urban planning plans” and “engage in a realistic decentralization policy”, but above all to “guarantee inclusive development”. A fight for which she does not fear returning once again behind bars.