Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council cleared President
Alassane Ouattara to seek a controversial third term in next month’s election as it rejected the candidacy of two prominent opposition leaders.
The incumbent and his main challenger, Henri Konan Bedie, are among four candidates out of 44 presidential hopefuls that the panel allowed to participate in the October 31 vote. It barred ex-speaker of parliament and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, as well as Laurent Gbagbo, Ouattara’s predecessor, in a decision that may stir unrest.
Opposition activists have staged sporadic protests in the world’s top cocoa-grower since Ouattara, 78, announced last month he’ll seek reelection.
His critics say Ivorian law only allows two presidential terms, while the ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace argues that a new constitution adopted in 2016 reset the clock.
“A judicial debate took place in a transparent manner,” Ouattara’s lawyer, Abdoulaye Ben Meite, told reporters after the panel announced its decision in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
“The Constitutional Council has settled the debate and I think Ivorians will do well to comply with this decision, to respect the decision and the authority from which it came.”
Earlier this year, Ouattara said he would step down and hand over to a younger generation of leaders.