Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ivory Coast President Faces Fragmented Opposition in Re-election Bid

FILE - Alassane Ouattara, the President of Ivory Coast, speaks during the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.
ABIDJAN—Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara faces a fragmented opposition in his bid for re-election next month.  No less than 33 candidates had applied to run, with the Constitutional Court clearing a final 10.

Ten candidates, eight men and two women, will compete in the October 25 presidential election in Ivory Coast. 

One of the questions the country's Constitutional Council had to answer was whether incumbent Alassane Ouattara was eligible to run again.  Some of his opponents claimed he did not meet all the criteria, but the council president, Mamadou Kone, concluded he did.

He said that after inspecting Ouattara's application he found it to be in keeping with the electoral legal requirements, and his name will be added to the final list of candidates to run for the presidency.

Before the announcement, police deployed around the Constitutional Court building in Abidjan.

The elections are expected to be a milestone in solidifying peace, after years of civil war and clashes that marred the previous elections in 2010.

The results were disputed and supporters of then-president Laurent Gbagbo and opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara fought each other for months, leaving about 3,000 people dead.  Ultimately, Gbagbo was arrested and Ouattara became president

Now, Ouattara and his party, the Rally of the Republicans, are seen by some observers as a favorite to win a second term as he faces a fragmented opposition.

The two major parties, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast and Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front, have both imploded during the past few months with several major figures breaking away and deciding to run as independents or form their own political party.

Among the candidates are former prime ministers Pascal Affi N'Guessan and Charles Konan Banny, former foreign minister Amara Essy and former parliament speaker Mamadou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly, who founded his own party, Lider, has joined a coalition in order to take on Ouattara. 

Lider's secretary general Monique Gbekia explains what motivated the creation of the coalition.

She said they knew they could not beat candidate Ouattara on their own and that they had to team up. 

She added that although coalition members are from different political horizons and sometimes they have disagreements, they share a common goal, which is working for a better Ivory Coast, and that everybody is united around that goal.

The electoral campaign is not to start before October 9. Alassane Ouattara and his political party have been saying confidently for months that their goal is not only to win, but to win in the first round.  

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