How the Ivorian president surprised West Africa by calling it quits

Alassane OuattaraImage copyright Getty Images

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara has surprised his critics by asserting that he is not going to run for a 3rd time period, placing strain on different regional leaders to comply with his instance, writes the BBC’s James Copnall from the primary metropolis, Abidjan.

Stop me in the event you’ve heard this one earlier than: an African politician involves energy, likes his time in workplace, and modifications the structure to run once more.

This story has an uncommon ending although – and one which has led to each applause and consternation in West Africa and additional afield.

Earlier this month, Alassane Ouattara, 78, formally introduced that he wouldn’t run for a controversial third time period as president of cocoa-rich Ivory Coast, though a just lately modified structure appeared to permit him that chance.

There have been gasps from the politicians who had gathered to listen to him converse within the capital Yamoussoukro – and maybe even louder sounds from the neighborhood of the presidential palace in neighbouring Guinea.

‘Lesson in democracy’

For months opposition politicians in Guinea have been insisting that President Alpha Condé, 82, is intent on utilizing any means he can to increase his keep in energy.

There have been large protests – and even deaths – in a number of locations in Guinea over the difficulty, and Mr Condé is making an attempt to organise a referendum which might enable him to run once more, though he’s in what’s at present his second and closing time period.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Guineans are demanding that President Condé steps down on the finish of his two phrases

According to 1 one who was within the room in Yamoussoukro, a Guinean minister telephoned an Ivorian counterpart simply after Mr Ouattara made his announcement to precise his dismay on the impression it might need on Mr Condé’s try to stay in workplace in Guinea.

Others have been happier, after all.

The Guinean opposition politician Sidya Touré, who used to work with Mr Ouattara, expressed his approval.

He known as the choice a “lesson in democracy”, saying Mr Ouattara can be remembered for it, and added that he hoped “others would be inspired by it for the good of the region”.

There might be little doubt he was considering of Mr Condé.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In opposition, Alpha Mr Condé was seen as a champion of democracy

It can be fascinating to know what former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré makes of all of it.

He now lives in exile in Ivory Coast’s business capital, Abidjan, in a home not removed from Mr Ouattara’s.

He was pressured from energy in 2014 by widespread protests, after he tried to get the structure modified to remain in workplace.

Mr Ouattara’s resolution was certainly motivated by a need to go away on a excessive be aware, applauded all over the world as a democrat – moderately than condemned as a person who outstayed his welcome, like his visitor Mr Compaoré.

‘Wounds haven’t healed’

Mr Ouattara’s announcement even drew reward from Ivorian opposition leaders.

Pascal Affi N’Guessan, a former prime minister and a key opposition determine, advised the BBC he needed to applaud the choice, saying it was a constructive step for democracy in Ivory Coast.

Other opponents, together with the person reported to be the richest in Ivory Coast, Jean-Louis Billon, made related statements.

That doesn’t cease them criticising the president’s time in energy, after all.

Alassane Ouattara

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Key info: Alassane Ouattara

  • Bornon New Year’s Day in 1948

  • Member of the Islamic religion

  • MarriedFrench businesswoman Dominique Folloroux in 1991

  • PhD in economics and labored for IMF

  • Sworn in as president on 6 May 2011 after years in opposition

Source: BBC

Mr Ouattara’s supporters say he introduced financial progress, stability and a renewed standing for Ivory Coast on the worldwide stage.

“I think he has been a good president,” stated Venance Konan, the veteran journalist who runs the state newspaper, Fraternité Matin.

“He came to power after a very difficult period, after a war. After nine years he has succeeded in rebuilding this country,” he added.

But opposition politicians – and plenty of Ivorians – say that the president has not accomplished sufficient to convey the nation collectively, and heal the injuries of the bitter battle that divided Ivory Coast, after which introduced him to energy.

‘Hoping for contemporary blood’

Around 3,000 individuals are thought to have died within the conflict sparked by Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to just accept he had misplaced the 2010 elections, earlier than troops loyal to Mr Ouattara arrested him in April 2011 and handed him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial for crimes in opposition to humanity.

Mr Gbagbo was acquitted however the prosecution is contemplating interesting in opposition to the ruling.

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Media captionJoseph Gnagbo fled to Wales when his life was threatened in Ivory Coast after the elections in 2010

The techniques utilized by Mr Ouattara’s supporters throughout his time in energy have been criticised too.

For instance, Mr Billon – who was once near Mr Ouattara – stated that when he broke with the president and his crew his companies have been audited for months in an try and intimidate him.

So, was he a democrat who developed the nation, or a person who did not convey the nation collectively?

Ivorians may have an opportunity to point out which view of Mr Ouattara’s legacy they agree with within the elections in October.

He and his political motion are backing his Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, as their candidate.

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It will likely be fascinating to see the ultimate final result of Mr Gbagbo’s authorized battle with the ICC, and whether or not it would have an effect on the October elections.

Mr Gbagbo’s supporters are determined for him to run once more – which could be doable if his authorized points are resolved.

However, it’s troublesome to see how he may return to Ivory Coast with out sure assurances from Mr Ouattara.

Mr Ouattara’s former key ally Guillaume Soro is in an identical place.

A one-time insurgent chief who went on to function prime minister and parliamentary speaker, he needs to run for president.

But he needed to abort an try and return to Ivory Coast in December, after a number of of his allies have been arrested, and an arrest warrant was issued for him after he was accused of plotting a coup.

Many noticed it as a warning for Mr Gbagbo.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Supporters of Ivory Coast’s ex-President Laurent Gbagbo have been jubilant following his acquittal

The long-running political disputes between him, Mr Ouattara and one other former President Henri Konan Bédié have been disastrous for Ivory Coast.

It is unclear whether or not Mr Bédié can even make means for a youthful candidate from his occasion.

Lots of Ivorians have advised me over the previous couple of days that the nation wants a brand new era of leaders.

The area will likely be watching the election carefully: any turmoil in Ivory Coast has an financial and political impression in locations like Burkina Faso, Liberia and Guinea.

If Mr Ouattara’s resolution to face apart helps result in peaceable elections in October, the strain for different leaders in West Africa and additional afield to comply with Mr Ouattara’s lead may develop.

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