The Constitutional Council of Côte d’Ivoire validated, Monday, September 14, the candidacy of the president, Alassane Ouattara, for a controversial third term and rejected those of the ex-president Laurent Gbagbo and the ex-rebel leader and ex – Prime Minister Guillaume Soro in the presidential election of October 31.
Only four of the 44 candidatures submitted to the Electoral Commission were validated by the Constitutional Council. M. Ouattara, who promises victory “A knockout blow “ (in the first round) will therefore have as adversaries his old rival, former ally and former president Henri Konan Bédié (1993-1999), Pascal Affi Nguessan, former prime minister under the presidency of Laurent Gbagbo, and former deputy Kouadio Konan Bertin, dissident of Mr. Bédié’s party, the PDCI (Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire).
The fear of deadly violence in the run-up to the October 31 poll and after the elections is strong, ten years after the crisis that arose out of the 2010 presidential election which left 3,000 dead. This crisis was born from the refusal of the then president, Laurent Gbagbo, to recognize his electoral defeat against Alassane Ouattara.
The announcement of the candidacy of Mr. Ouattara had degenerated into violence having killed about fifteen people in August. Monday morning, while the decision of the Constitutional Council was not known, demonstrations and marches against the candidacy of Mr. Ouattara ended with clashes with the police, in several cities of Côte d’Ivoire .
The change of Constitution resets the counters to zero
The Constitutional Council did not follow the requests of several opponents, who considered that Mr. Ouattara could not serve a third term, the Basic Law limiting their number to two.
The Council recalled that the change of the Constitution in 2016 was not a “Revision” and concluded: “The question of the possibility or not for the outgoing President of the Republic to run for a new mandate must be analyzed in the light of the adoption of a new Constitution. “
Ironically, to support its conclusions, the body even quoted Mr. Affi Nguessan (author of one of the opposition requests), recalling his old statements criticizing the new Constitution: “Nothing in the new Constitution prevents President Ouattara from being a candidate for his own succession in the presidential election of October 31, 2020.”
Like the previous one, the 2016 Constitution limits presidential terms to two. Supporters of Mr. Ouattara claimed that the change of the Constitution had reset the counter to zero, while the opposition deemed his new candidacy unconstitutional.
“Destruction of democracy”
The court, however, unsurprisingly rejected the candidacies of MM. Gbagbo and Soro, both of whom have been convicted by the Ivorian courts.
Mr. Gbagbo, 75, who has never yet spoken publicly on his candidacy, is still on parole in Belgium, pending a possible appeal before the International Criminal Court (ICC), who acquitted him at first instance on the charge of crimes against humanity.
More he is under sentence in January 2018 to twenty years in prison by the Ivorian justice for the so-called “BCEAO robbery”, the Central Bank of West African States, during the 2010-2011 crisis.
Mr. Soro was sentenced in April to twenty years in prison for concealment of embezzlement of public funds.
“I vigorously challenge the unfair and unfounded decision taken by the Constitutional Council. I consider it an iniquitous decision, politically motivated, legally lame and which is part of a logic of annihilation of democracy and the rule of law ”, reacted Mr. Soro on Twitter and Facebook.
“The Constitutional Council has just endorsed, and this without surprise, the forfeiture and perjury of Mr. Ouattara (…) In these circumstances, I am announcing that we will embark on a new stage in our fight for democracy in our country. It will be harsh but we will win it without a doubt ”, threatened Guillaume Soro, who promised to reveal his intentions on September 17 at a press conference in France.