Ivory Coast’s October election was always likely to be tense – but President Alassane Ouattara’s decision last month to seek a controversial third term has dramatically raised the stakes.
After all, it was only on March 5 that Ouattara announced he would not stand for re-election, even as he insisted that constitutional amendments introduced in 2016allowed him to run again. Pledging to “pass on the torch to a new generation”, the 78-year-old a week later told a gathering of the governing RDHP party they “will be in good hands” as he backed Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly for president.
The announcement of Coulibaly’s candidacy seemed to end months of speculation that Ouattara would try to extend his stay, thus eliminating a great source of friction between the RDHP and the opposition ahead of the highly anticipated October 31 presidential election.
But the relief was short-lived.