Ivory Coast’s Ban On Public Protests Ends Today

The ban on outdoor protests in Ivory Coast will end today ahead of the West African country’s general elections holding on October 31.

President Alassane Ouattara announced the ban on demonstrations in a statement on August 20 following deadly clashes triggered by his decision to run for a third term.

He had earlier on Thursday, 6 August 2020 formally accepted his party’s nomination to be its candidate thereby defying opponents who say the constitution forbids a third term.

Opposition claims President Ouattara’s third-term bid flouts the constitution.

With the end to the ban on Wednesday, the opposition plans to begin a campaign of civil disobedience against Ouattara’s third term bid.

The opposition is demanding changes to the constitutional court, the electoral commission, and the withdrawal of Mr Ouattara’s candidacy.

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Ouattara has accused the opposition of frightening the public simply to disrupt the electoral process.

International Crisis Group has urged the Ivorian authorities to allow former President Laurent Gbagbo and exiled ex-Speaker Guillaume Soro to return to the country.

Supporters of Gbagbo and Soro have condemned the government for excluding them from the presidential election and threatened to hold protests.

A weekend rally by the opposition, which has urged a united front against the president, registered a low turnout.

Ouattara had on Thursday, 6 August 2020 formally accepted his party’s nomination to be its candidate and defying opponents who say the constitution forbids a third term.

Ivory Coast’s October election is seen as the greatest test yet of the tenuous stability achieved since a brief civil war in 2010 and 2011 killed about 3,000 people following Ouattara’s first election win.

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His opponents say the two-term limit in the constitution bars him from running again, but Ouattara has said his first two mandates do not count under the new constitution adopted in 2016.

Opposition party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), called his decision to run “deplorable.” FPI spokesman Issiaka Sangare added: “Ivory Coast could have given another signal that would have allowed democracy to continue.”

Ouattara’s other main challenger will be Henri Konan Bedie, who was president from 1993-1999 and is the confirmed candidate of one of the country’s largest parties, the PDCI.

The race is expected to be the most aggressively contested since 2010 when Gbagbo’s refusal to step down after Ouattara’s victory sparked the deadly conflict.

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Bedie had earlier on disclosed that he and Gbagbo have agreed that their parties would back the other’s candidate in the event of a second-round run-off against Ouattara.

The first round of polling is expected on Oct. 31.


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