Ouattara, Ivory Coast President, plots third-term in office

Ivory Coast’s ruling party, Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace, has nominated President Alassane Ouattara to run for a third term as leader of the world’s top cocoa grower.

asked the president to seek reelection at a convention in Abidjan, the commercial hub. Its selection of Ouattara, 78, follows the death this month of his preferred successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly.

But the main opposition leader has warned that his candidacy would be illegal.

Ouattara will announce his decision on whether to accept the nomination “very soon” to run and will address the nation to explain what’s at stake for the country, he told delegates. “Ivory Coast shouldn’t be in the hands of those who could let the country tip over into violence, disorder and the pursuit of private interests.”

Opposition leader Henri Konan Bedie said in an interview with France 24 that a third-term presidency is barred by the nation’s constitution and people in the West African nation are “ready to oppose” it.

Since coming to power in 2011, Ouattara has presided over annual economic growth of at least 7%. His presidency ushered in a period of stability for the West African nation, where elections have historically been fraught. While the law imposes a two-term limit, he has argued the adoption of a new constitution after his first term in 2016 allows him to run again.

Ouattara is unlikely to decide on whether to run or not until after the 40-day commemoration of Gon Coulibaly’s death, which is set to take place on Aug. 16, said Tochi Eni-Kalu, an Africa analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based Eurasia Group. Gon Coulibaly died July 8 after collapsing at a cabinet meeting.

Uncertainty about the future leadership of Ivory Coast has weighed on the West African nation’s dollar securities, which haven’t returned anything in July, compared with the 3.3% average for 15 national issuers. The yield on Ivorian dollar bonds due in 2032 rose seven basis points to 6.39% on Thursday.

If Ouattara does run, he would be up against several former allies, including Bedie, 86, who withdrew his party from the ruling coalition in 2018. Bedie served as president for four years until he was ousted in a bloodless 1999 coup. He backed Ouattara until they fell out over his succession.

The parties of Ouattara’s predecessor Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro have formed an alliance with the main opposition, Bedie said. “It goes without saying that whichever one of us has the best (first-round) results will be backed by all the others” in the second round to defeat the ruling party, he told France24.

Soro, who’s also a former speaker of parliament, quit the ruling-party coalition to run for the top office in the upcoming vote, but lives in France after being charged with planning a coup in 2017. He has denied the allegations. Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front will pick its candidate on Aug. 1.

-Bloomberg

 

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