Ouattara takes the bait, to run for third term

 

By Tasie Theodore

 

President Alassane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire has taken the bait extended to him by his party and accepted to run for a third term in office as their candidate.

In an address to the nation, Thursday the incumbent President confirmed that he would now be seeking re-election in October.

With this development also, he has formally accepted the ruling party’s nomination of him to be their candidate in the forthcoming polls which observers say is indeed a very testy race for him, the country and the region.

The acceptance is also raising additional moral and constitutional issues from critics who have persistently argued that the constitution forbids a third term, he may be too old at the moment and his running encourages the building and entrenchment of a power cult around his person which may be at variance with broader national goals in a country that has, within the Ouattara years in office this far, risen to become one of the acknowledged economic champions on the continent.

Incidentally, Ouattara, who has been in the saddle since 2011, had reiterated in March that he would not be running for office again. But then disaster struck and his then his preferred successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died in July, leaving the possibility of the ruling party getting a replacement. They simply asked Ouattara to reconsider his earlier decision. Now they have their answer.

“I have decided to respond favourably to the call of my fellow citizens,” Ouattara told the nation Thursday in a televised speech. “Given my previous promise, this decision represents a real sacrifice for me.”

According to those in the know, the forthcoming election is also being seen as about the greatest test yet of the tenuous stability achieved since a brief civil war in 2010 and 2011 that resulted in the killing of about 3,000 people, and which had broken out following Ouattara’s first election win.

More significantly, his opponents say the two-term limit in the constitution bars him from running again, but Ouattara has said his first two mandates do not count under the new constitution that had only been technically adopted in 2016, and thus left open the window that he is now using.

It is not impossible that the matter may be taken for adjudication in the courts in the next few days.

 

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