Ruling party in Côte d’Ivoire asks Alassane Ouattara to run again

The 31 October election is expected to test political stability in the world’s top cocoa-producing country

Côte d’Ivoire’s ruling alliance, the Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la démocratie et la paix (RHDP), said on Monday that it had asked President Alassane Ouattara to stand for a third term after the death of his chosen successor.

Ouattara, 78, had said he would step down and named his close ally Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly as the RHDP’s candidate for the 31 October presidential election.

But Gon Coulibaly died on 8 July, leaving the party without a candidate in the run-up to an election that is expected to test political stability in the world’s top cocoa-producing nation.

The election is expected to be the most hotly contested since 2010, when Ouattara’s victory over the then incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, sparked a brief civil war in which 3,000 people died.

Sure-fire choice

Coulibaly’s death, less than a week after he returned to Côte d’Ivoire from extended medical leave in France to seek medical treatment for a heart problem, had raised fears of a scramble for power.

“A majority of our supporters have turned to President Alassane Ouattara. He is our solution, and I have explained this to him,” the party’s executive director, Adama Bictogo, told Radio France Internationale.

Ouattara’s candidacy would help avoid a series of bitter succession battles, Bictogo said.

“Why should we take the risk when we have this certainty?” he said. “If he [Ouattara] refuses, then we’ll look into it and make a decision. For now, I have no other candidate in mind.”

Dicey decision

Ouattara will announce his decision in the next few days, Bictogo said.

The president previously said he would prefer to hand over power to a new generation, although he also says he has the right to run again under a new constitution adopted in 2016.

The octogenarian ex-president Henri Konan Bédié, of the former ruling PDCI (Parti démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire), has declared that he will run in the election.

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