Henri Konan Bédié, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Albert Mabri Toikeusse, Marcel Amon Tanoh, Mamadou Koulibaly: so many leaders on the same platform, the image is unprecedented in Côte d’Ivoire. Long divided, the Ivorian opposition held its first major meeting on Saturday, October 10, attracting some 30,000 people to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny stadium in Abidjan to present a united front against the controversial candidacy of President Alassane Ouattara for a third term in office. the presidential election of October 31. “All the Ivorian opposition says NO, NO, NO! Could we read on the podium of the stadium.
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A united opposition….
This demonstration brought together for the first time many leaders, from former President Henri Konan Bédié, an 86-year-old candidate for the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI, the main opposition party), to representatives of the presidential, former president Laurent Gbagbo, on parole in Belgium, and the former rebel leader and ex-Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, in exile in France and wanted by the Ivorian justice.
The former president of the National Assembly Mamadou Koulibaly or the former ministers of Alassane Ouattara, Abdallah Albert Mabri Toikeusse and Marcel Amon Tanoh, three political figures whose presidential candidacies were rejected by the Constitutional Council, were also there.
There were also the “enemy brothers” of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) founded by Laurent Gbagbo. The party of the former president has been divided for years between a trend led by former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan and another, the “GOR” (Gbagbo or nothing) of Assoa Adou, secretary general of the branch considered historic. These have so far been irreconcilable.
Here is what we could see for the image, remain the speech and especially the strategy. The least we can say is that no strong message came out of this long-awaited meeting. Only the speech of the former president Henri Konan Bédié could strike the spirits. The one who is now the leader of the opposition called on the UN to “take up the Ivorian file” in order to set up “a truly independent and credible electoral body”.
For his part, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, also presidential candidate, recalled the slogan of “civil disobedience” launched by the opposition and called for a “political transition” in Côte d’Ivoire.
The meeting was supervised by a large police force and the Plateau district (power and business district), where the stadium is located, was closed to road traffic. The opposition complained of measures to discourage activists from going to the stadium.
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… but without a watchword
A counter-meeting of the ruling party which was to be held the same day in the Ivorian economic capital was finally canceled. If it rallied behind its refusal of President Ouattara’s candidacy, the opposition did not however agree on an electoral alliance for the presidential election.
The position of its leaders on whether or not to hold the presidential election on October 31 does not seem unanimous either: a boycott had been mentioned by some, but MM. Bédié and Affi N’Guessan are maintaining their candidatures.
While the opposition held its first big meeting, President Ouattara has been making visits to different regions of the country for several weeks, increasing the number of infrastructure inaugurations.
This Saturday, he continued a tour in the North-West, his stronghold. Like a campaign ahead of time, since the opening of the official electoral campaign is set for October 15.
The fear of electoral violence is strong in Côte d’Ivoire, ten years after the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011 which left 3,000 dead, after President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to recognize his electoral defeat against Alassane Ouattara.
About fifteen people died in August in violence that arose in the wake of the announcement of President Ouattara’s candidacy.
Elected in 2010, re-elected in 2015, Alassane Ouattara, 78, announced in March that he was giving up running for a third term, before changing his mind in August, after the death of his designated dolphin, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly.
The Ivorian Constitution provides for a maximum of two terms, but the Constitutional Council estimated that with the new Constitution of 2016, the counter of the terms of Mr. Ouattara was reset to zero, which the opposition contests.
The Constitutional Council validated only 4 of the 44 candidatures. In addition to that of Mr. Ouattara, those of MM. Bédié, Affi N’Guessan and former MP Kouadio Konan Bertin. Those of MM. Gbagbo and Soro, presented by relatives, were refused.
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