Ivory Coast President Ouattara Says He Will Not Run For Re-Election

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
The political decisions of Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara affect investor sentiment. Photo -AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, Pool
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he would not run in October’s presidential election, putting an end to his 10-year presidency. Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara discusses with French President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting at the Elysee presidential palace, in Paris, France, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. Image: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, Pool

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has announced that he will not stand for a third presidential term ahead of elections later this year.

Around 3,000 Ivorians died in violence sparked by the 2010 elections and the previous president’s refusal to relinquish power.

Ouattara’s announcement comes as a surprise because he had previously stated that he would run for a third term if his longtime political rivals were candidates in the upcoming election, according to News24.

In 2016, Ouattara changed the constitution to limit presidential terms to two.

In 2018, he said that the new constitution authorizes him to serve two terms starting in 2020. He implied that his two election wins under the old constitution would not count against the new constitution’s two-term limit.

On March 5, Ouattara said he would not run in October’s presidential election, putting an end to his 10-year presidency.

“I would like to solemnly announce that I will not be a candidate in the Oct. 31, 2020, presidential election and I will transfer power to the younger generation,” Ouattara said to Congress.

Lawmakers and hundreds of students invited to Congress for the speech applauded, chanting “thank you” as the president spoke.

The president now has six months to implement a succession plan and prepare his chosen successor. Opposition parties are yet to announce their presidential candidates.

This gives “the ruling party candidate an advantage while allowing Ouattara to exit through the front door,” Arthur Banga, an analyst at the University of Cocody in Abidjan, told Bloomberg.

Ouattara’s decision could be part of a plan to take his political opponents by surprise, political analyst Sylvain N’Guessan suggests.

“This is an announcement to be taken with a grain of salt. This decision could give time to Alassane Ouattara’s political party to round out the internal angles. It also aims to take Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bedié by surprise,” N’Guessan told TheAfricaReport.

In 2010, Ouattara was elected president in an election that sparked a brief civil war because his predecessor, Gbagbo, refused to concede defeat, France24 reported. Around 3,000 people died in the violence.

Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer and the largest economy of the eight-country bloc known as the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

That bloc includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Guinea-Bissau.

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In 2017, Ivorian growth reached almost 8 percent, the highest in the region.

Ivory Coast’s continued economic success depends on a peaceful presidential election in 2020, according to TheAfricaReport.

The president’s two main rivals, Gbagbo and Bedié, have not yet confirmed whether they will be candidates in October.