Ouattara Can Run For Third Term, Says Ivory Coast Top Court

An Ivory Coast top court has declared President Alassane Ouattara eligible to run for the presidency in the October elections.

Should President Ouattara win, it will be his third consecutive term as the West African country’s leader.

Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council also barred former President Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader-turned-Prime Minister Guillaume Soro from standing in next month’s presidential election.

It cleared only four of the 44 candidates for the October 31 presidential election.

The other candidates cleared were former president Henri Konan Bedie from the historically dominant Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (PDCI), Gbagbo’s former prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and Kouadio Konan Bertin, a dissident from Bedie’s party.

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The council’s ruling on Monday sparks violent protests in several cities and fears grew of a repeat of the conflict that claimed 3,000 lives a decade ago.

In Abidjan, protesters torched a bus in Yopougon – the district is thought to be a fiefdom of exiled former president Gbagbo – after scuffles broke out earlier in the day between security forces and youths.

Gbagbo’s supporters had filed an application for him to run in the vote.

In Bangolo, demonstrators set fire to a mining truck and other vehicles on Monday, according to a resident, who added that gendarmes dispersed them with tear gas.

Witnesses said security forces took down barricades set up by protesters on several roads in the west of the country. 

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About 15 people have died in violence since Ouattara, 78, announced last month that he would run for a third term.

The unrest has political observers worried that the vote could destabilise Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer and French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy.

Although the constitution limits presidents to two terms, Ouattara and his supporters argue that a 2016 constitutional tweak reset the clock.

The president had previously committed to not running again, but he changed his mind after the sudden death of his anointed successor – Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly – from a heart attack in July.

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