- The opposition insists that his third presidential bid is unconstitutional.
- The other successful candidates were a former President, a former Prime Minister, and a dissident.
- Violent protests erupted in several cities across the country in opposition to the candidacy of Alassane Ouattara.
Alassane Ouattara is officially a candidate for third presidential term in Côte d’Ivoire. The Ivorian Constitutional Council gave President Ouattara a green light on Monday to run for a third term in the October presidential elections, sparking a wave of violent protests across the West African state.
The opposition insists that his third presidential bid is unconstitutional. Only 4 of the 44 candidates were approved by the Constitutional Council.
Those barred from participating are, among others, the country’s former President, Laurent Gbagbo, who was acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, and former Prime Minister and rebel leader Guillaume Soro.
The electoral commission said that anyone convicted of a crime would be disqualified from running for the highest office, and prevented Soro from running since he was sentenced in April to 20 years in prison for “hiding embezzlement of public funds.”
Gbagbo was sentenced in absentia to a period of 20 years during the plundering of the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the 2010-2011 crisis.
Who Will Vote?
The other successful candidates were former President Henri Konan Bedie, from the historically dominant PDCI party; Gbagbo’s former prime minister, Pascal Affi N’Guessan; and Kouadio Konan Bertin, a dissident from Bedie’s party.
At a rally attended by tens of thousands of supporters in the capital, Yamoussoukro, Bedie promised, if elected, to work for “the unconditional return of all exiles, as well as the release of all political, civil and military prisoners from the post-election crisis.” Bedie seeks to return to the presidency after being deposed in the country’s first coup, in 1999.
Wave of Protests
Following the announcement by the Constitutional Council, on Monday, violent protests erupted in several cities across the country in opposition to the candidacy of Alassane Ouattara. In Yopougon, a working-class neighborhood in the economic capital, Abidjan, protesters set a bus ablaze following clashes between police and youth groups.
The neighborhood is considered a stronghold of exiled ex-President Gbagbo, whose supporters had submitted a request for him to run in the vote. In Bangolo (Central-West), after a march, the demonstrators set on fire a truck and several other vehicles.
The political tensions concern political observers who fear that the vote could destabilize Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer, and the largest French-speaking West African economy.
Ouattara in Pursuit of a Fresh Mandate
Alassane Ouattara, 78, who had announced in March that he won’t be seeking a fresh mandate to govern the country, changed his mind after his preferred successor and the nation’s former Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly died in July.
Ivory Coast’s 2016 Constitution limits presidential terms to two, but Ouattara’s supporters say the constitutional change made that year restarted the mandate counter ,allowing for a new candidacy.
The country’s opposition is strongly opposed to this interpretation, and insists that Ouattara’s third term bid is unconstitutional.