World Ivory Coast's Ouattara pressed to seek third term after PM's death, sources say
Ivory Coast’s President Flirts With Third Term Bid, Bucking Trend
The sudden death of Alassane Ouattara’s chosen successor could see him run for a third term as president of Ivory Coast, countering the push in Africa to limit leaders’ stay in office. Ouattara helped secure the party ticket for Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly after announcing in March he would step down. That ended uncertainty over his intentions after hinting in 2018 he was considering extending his mandate to ensure economic gains were sustained in the world’s biggest cocoa producer.Now that his protégé has died, Ouattara is facing pressure to reverse that decision.
By Ange Aboa
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Leaders from Ivory Coast's ruling party agreed at a closed-door meeting late Wednesday to press President Alassane Ouattara to seek a third term in October's election following the sudden death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, two sources said.
Ouattara announced in March that he would not stand for re-election after 10 years in office and designated Gon Coulibaly, his closest political ally, as the RHDP party's candidate.
ICoast vice president quits, adding to political turbulence
The difficult waters of Ivory Coast politics became even more turbulent on Monday as Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan quit, five days after the sudden death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, and with crucial elections less than four months away. Coulibaly had just returned to Ivory Coast after a two-month stay in France, where he received treatment for chronic heart problems. One of the world's major coffee and cocoa producers, Ivory Coast still carries the scars of a brief civil war that erupted nearly a decade ago.
Gon Coulibaly's death on Wednesday, less than a week after he returned to Ivory Coast from an extended medical leave in France for heart issues, left the RHDP scrambling to choose a replacement.
The election is expected to be the most hotly contested since 2010, when Ouattara's victory over incumbent Laurent Gbagbo sparked a brief civil war in which 3,000 people died.
A small group of senior RHDP leaders, presided over by the party's executive secretary, Adama Bictogo, met informally on Wednesday, said the two sources, both party members, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We think unanimously that only President Ouattara can carry the flag. He alone can unite us," said one of the sources. "It is true that he said he did not want to be a candidate, but the situation has changed."
North Ivory Coast: the city of Ferké still believes in the presidential star of Guillaume Soro
© Issouf SANOGO Kiali Ouattara, traditional chief of Ferkessédougou, in a street of his city on June 23, 2020 "I do not do politics, but you don't abandon your child, "says Kiali Ouattara, traditional chief of Ferkessédougou. The big city in northern Ivorian is the fief of ex-rebel Guillaume Soro, who remains a candidate for the presidential election in October despite an exile in France and legal troubles.
A more formal leadership meeting is planned for Thursday, the sources said. The deadline to submit the candidate's name is Sept 1.
The presidency declined to comment on Thursday.
Ouattara has previously said he would prefer to hand over power to a new generation but that he has the right to run again under a new constitution adopted in 2016. His opponents dispute that.
"He has always been a unanimous choice within his own camp. But (running again) would be extremely dangerous, particularly vis-a-vis the opposition, which would find a common enemy," said Rinaldo Depagne, International Crisis Group's West Africa project director.
The RHDP candidate will face off against former President Henri Konan Bedie, who declared his candidacy last month, while other politicians could join the race ahead of the filing deadline.
(Additional reporting and writing by Aaron Ross in Dakar; Editing by Bate Felix and Frances Kerry)
Opponents: Pipeline's defeat 'a testament to perseverance' .
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