Forty days before the Ivory Coast presidential election, former President Henri Konan Bédié has called for “civil disobedience” with the risk of further escalating tensions in the country, which has already been hit by clashes following the announcement of the list of candidates elected for the vote.
Former Ivory Coast President Henri Konan Bédié called on Sunday, September 20, on behalf of the opposition, “civil disobedience” in the face of “confiscation” of the controversial candidacy of Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara in the October 31 presidential election.
“Faced with the confiscation, just a slogan: civil disobedience,” Henri Konan Bédié, greeted by roaring applause at the end of a loud mass that brought together the main opposition parties at the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), told AFP.
The former head of state (1993-99) has established himself as an opposition leader since he broke up with Alassane Ouattara two years ago. He did not specify any form of action for this “civil disobedience”, a formula that was preferred over a boycott of the presidential election, a hypothesis mentioned earlier.
No common opposition strategy
Driven from power by a military coup in 1999, Henri Konan Bédié still hopes to return: at the age of 86, the leader of the PDCI is one of four candidates elected to the Constitutional Council.
At his side on Sunday were Assoa Adou, secretary general of the frontline Ivoirien (FPI) for former president Laurent Gbagbo, and Zié Koné of the Générations et Peuples Solidaires (GPS) movement, considered the other forces the main parties in the Ivorian opposition – as well as other small parties.
On the other hand, the absent opponent Pascal Affi N’Guessan, one of the presidential candidates, was the leader of the so-called “reformist” wing of the FPI, which opposes the pro-Gbagbo “legitimist” wing.
If the opposition is unanimous in its candidacy for a third term by Alassane Ouattara, which speakers have long described as “confiscation” and “violation of the constitution”, it is struggling to find a common strategy before the government, and no electoral union has been announced so far.
Fear of deadly violence
Although the opposition says it wants to “restore law and democracy”, according to Henri Konan Bédié, this call for “civil disobedience” could lead to a further escalation of tensions in Côte d’Ivoire, to just over a month from the presidential election.
Fear of deadly violence is strong in this West African country, ten years after the crisis following the 2010 presidential election, which left 3,000 dead.
About 15 people died in violence in August following the announcement of President Ouattara’s candidacy for a third term. Clashes broke out again on Tuesday in several places after the Constitutional Council announced the list of candidates elected to the polls.
The opposition demands the dissolution of the Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council, which it considers to be “subordinate” to power and therefore unable to organize an “open” election.
Elected in 2010, re-elected in 2015, Alassane Ouattara, 78, announced in March that he had resigned to run for a third term before changing in August, following the death of his designated dolphin, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly.