Political Tensions Mount
The October 31 presidential election campaign launched on Thursday in Côte d’Ivoire with President Alassane Ouattara seeking a controversial third term against the opposition that joined forces in civil disobedience as some urged for a poll boycott.
Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Ivorian Popular Front presidential candidate gave a public address, “We have decided to solemnly bring to the knowledge of all our voters, all our activists, and the people of Côte d’Ivoire, to the knowledge of national and international opinion, that the ongoing electoral process does not concern us in any way, that we are not at all concerned by this ongoing electoral process. That this electoral process is illegal, because it does not meet any international criteria, and that our activists – just like the Ivorian voters – should abstain from participating.”
Many Ivorians view Ouattara’s candidacy as unconstitutional as per a two-term limit that the head of state’s camp argues was reset by a 2016 constitution revision.
The opposition accuses the Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council of bias while the International Crisis Group advocates to postpone elections to avoid a repeat of the violent electoral crisis ten years ago – as some have already died in violent anti-Ouattara-protests.
Elected in 2010, re-elected in 2015, Ouattara announced in March that he would not seek a third term, before changing his mind in August after the death of his designated successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly.
Ivorian law states a maximum of two terms, but the Constitutional Council said that with the new Constitution of 2016, the counter of Ouattara’s two presidential terms has been reset to zero — which is fiercely contested by the opposition and many Ivorian citizens.
Around 15 people died in August in violence surrounding protests after the announcement of his candidacy and clashes erupted in several localities after the Constitutional Council announced the list of candidates for the election.