By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) – Citizen activists in two West African countries, Ivory Coast and Guinea, are rallying their troops on social media to defend the constitutional limit of two terms which current office-holding presidents seem determined to defy.
In Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, police have been firing teargas to disperse opponents of President Alassane Ouattara, who says he was asked to run for a third term of five years by the ruling party after the sudden demise of his hand-picked successor Amadou Gon Coulibaly from a heart attack in July.
The constitution limits presidents to two five-year terms.
“Given these exceptional circumstances, I have decided to respond favorably to the call of my fellow citizens,” Ouattara declared. “This decision, which I have carefully considered, is a duty which I accept in order to do what is best for the nation,” he added, going as far as to describe the choice as “a sacrifice” but which his opponents call “a coup.”
Dozens of young people protested outside the country’s independent electoral commission on August 6, denouncing the commission’s withdrawal of the name of former president Laurent Gbagbo from the electoral register. Protesters burned tires and law enforcement responded with the use of tear gas.
According to observers, these actions will become more widespread between now and election day, with the first round scheduled to take place on October 31.
The race is expected to be the most hotly contested since 2010, when former president Gbagbo’s refusal to step down after Ouattara’s victory sparked a deadly conflict. Some 3,000 people were killed and Gbagbo was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over the 2010-2011 bloodshed. His efforts to obtain a passport and turn home have been blocked by the current president.
Similarly, in Guinea, the governing party has nominated President Alpha Conde to stand for a third term, taking advantage of a new constitution to circumvent a two-term limit on presidential mandates.
Conde, 82, stopped short of formally accepting the nomination in a speech on August 6. Talk of his running again has sparked widespread protests that have killed at least 30 people over the past year.
“Today you have all spoken, allies, parties and others – I take note,” Conde told party members.
The election is tentatively scheduled to be held on October 18, but Conde has yet to sign off on a date. Meanwhile, Guinea’s embattled opposition has staged mass rallies against the possibility of Conde running for a third term. [IDN-InDepthNews – 10 August 2020]
Collage of pictures of President Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast and President Alpha Conde of Guinea from Wikimedia Commons.
IDN is the Flagship Agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. You are free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially.