Presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire: Alassane Ouattara in orbit

There is no longer any doubt, the Ivorian president will be on the starting line for the presidential election on October 31. Alassane Ouattara, 78, including 10 years at the head of the Ivorian nation, was officially invested this Saturday, August 22 in Abidjan, candidate of his party – the Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la democratie et la paix (RHDP) -, in front of a huge crowd of activists gathered at the Houphouët-Boigny stadium. “I invest you this August 22 as candidate of the RHDP in the presidential election of October 31, 2020”, declared Henriette Diabaté, first vice-president of the party in power, addressing the outgoing head of state standing at his side. .

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Exceptional circumstances

A few minutes before his inauguration speech, Alassane Ouattara knows that he has succeeded in his bet to make this moment a highlight for the country. “Thank you for your presence, what a mobilization! Only the RHDP can make such a mobilization. […] What the others know how to do is to put tree trunks on the tracks to prevent honest citizens from driving, ”the RHPD candidate immediately launched. “Stop deforestation, stop cutting down trees to avoid flooding. We will win the October 2020 elections. The RHPD is the only party, I mean the only one, which covers the whole of the national territory. It is 143 mayors out of 201. It is 24 regions out of 31, and others will continue to join us again ”, he continued, giving the key elements of language for those who still doubt the power of the party. , appeared divided in recent times.

While, initially, the candidate president had announced in March his intention not to stand for re-election and to pass the baton to his Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the sudden death of the latter on July 8 upset his plans as well as those of his left. On August 6, 2020, in his traditional message to the nation on the eve of Côte d’Ivoire’s national holiday, he finally announced that he would be a candidate for the supreme office to “maintain the gains” of development and peace. recorded since coming to power in 2011. “With Amadou Gonn, we were sure it was a knockout. The exceptional situation required me to reconsider my decision. I decided to respond in favor of your call out of duty for our party and in the interest of the country, ”reaffirmed Alassane Ouattara, this Saturday, August 22.

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Lively debate around the constitutionality of his candidacy

Concretely, this new candidacy is considered unconstitutional by its opponents who mobilize, week after week. And the first demonstrations have already set the tone with acts of violence over several days that have left six dead, a hundred injured and 1,500 displaced. In addition, 69 people were arrested, according to an official report. Despite the ban on demonstrations by the authorities, further violence took place in the country on Friday, especially in Bonoua (50 kilometers from Abidjan), stronghold of the former first lady Simone Gbagbo. Shops of “Dioula” traders (from the north of the country), who traditionally support Ouattara, have been targeted by young people in the region, according to testimonies from residents.

And Alassane Ouattara to condemn this “violence”, affirming: “Hold meetings! The violence will not pass, ”he warned, moments after being officially nominated as a candidate for the Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la democratie et la paix (RHDP). Beyond these verbal games addressed to his opponents, the Head of State also returned to the legality of his candidacy, affirming that, if there was no “IIIe Republic, neither Alassane Ouattara, nor Bédié, nor Gbagbo would be candidates ”in reference to the new Constitution revised in 2016, which nevertheless limits presidential terms to two. Supporters of President Ouattara claim that this revision has reset the term counter to zero. Ouattara maintains that there was no retroactivity provided for by the Constitution of the IIIe Republic and that, consequently, nothing prevents him from being a candidate. “Who can dare say that he knows the Constitution better than I do? ” he asks.

“Constitutionally, President Alassane Ouattara cannot have a third term. He cannot be a candidate and he knows it, ”protests Maurice Kakou Guikahué, number two of the main opposition movement, the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), quoted by Agence France-Presse.

“It’s a dangerous candidacy that comes in a volatile context”, castigates, for his part, the opponent and presidential candidate Pascal Affi N’Guessan, 67, former Prime Minister of President Gbagbo, ousted from power in 2011 after several months of deadly post-election crisis. The latter called on President Ouattara to “give up this third term in order to leave the political arena with dignity”, saying he fears, otherwise, “that the future will be bleak, both for him and for the Côte d ‘ ‘Ivory’.

Read also Côte d’Ivoire: Alassane Ouattara candidate for the October presidential election

The tension is growing

If President Alassane Ouattara mentioned the candidacies of his main opponents, in reality, everyone’s situation is really different. Henri Konan Bédié will be the outgoing president’s main opponent. Indeed, neither Laurent Gbagbo nor Guillaume Soro seem able to depart from their legal situation. Especially since the rejection, in recent hours, by the Electoral Commission of appeals by Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro against their delisting from the electoral lists could further increase the tensions generated by the third candidacy of Mr. Ouattara .

Guillaume Soro, 47, calls himself a candidate, even if he lives in exile after his conviction by the Ivorian justice to 20 years in prison for “concealment of embezzlement of public funds”, and his entourage announced his willingness to appeal before courts. The ex-rebel leader, who helped Ouattara to gain power is also accused of “attempted insurrection” as part of a procedure still underway in Côte d’Ivoire.

As for Laurent Gbagbo, acquitted at first instance by the International Criminal Court (ICC), he awaits a possible appeal in Brussels and says he wants to return to the country, without revealing his political projects, even if his supporters hoped that he would appear at the court. presidential.

The coup d’état in Mali in the minds

The opposition is not the only thorn in the side of the Ivorian leader. Now, the shadow of the coup in neighboring Mali is very present in Côte d’Ivoire. The day after the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, the government banned demonstrations on the public highway until September 15 “as part of the state of emergency”. Chance of the calendar? The question is asked while Alassane Ouattara nevertheless broached the subject by declaring that “the time of coups d’état has passed, the time to accede to power by accident has passed”, before concluding that the next president will be “Alassane Dramane Ouattara”.

He then unveiled his program as well as the slogans of his campaign which will take place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. It should rely on its economic record, insist on the recovery and the good growth figures which have enabled the country to regain an important role in the region and on the continent. The head of state has promised more benefits from this growth for the poorest classes by the end of the year. While waiting to see his show of force materialize in the ballot box, the candidate head of state will submit his candidacy file next week to the CEI office.

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