Ivory Coast President Seeks Third Term After Protege’s Death

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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara will seek re-election in October after the death last month of the ruling party’s candidate, former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly.

Ouattara’s candidacy upends his announcement in March that he would step down this year after a decade leading the world’s biggest cocoa grower. Gon Coulibaly, whom Ouattara had handpicked to succeed him, died July 8.

“I am a candidate at the presidential election,” Ouattara said Thursday, a week after delegates of the Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace picked him as their candidate for the Oct. 31 polls. “The risk that the country reverses its gains after so much effort and sacrifice could be compromised” if I don’t stand again.Since coming to power in 2011, 78-year-old Ouattara presided over annual economic growth of at least 7% from 2012, his first full year in office. His presidency ushered in a period of stability for Ivory Coast, where elections have historically been fraught. While the law imposes a two-term limit, he has argued the adoption of a new constitution in 2016 allows him to run again.

Economic growth is expected to slow to 0.8% in 2020, if the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic persists until the end of the year, said Ouattara, who will run against several former allies, including Henri Konan Bedie, 86, who withdrew his party from the ruling coalition in 2018.

Ex-rebel leader Guillaume Soro, 48, whose troops helped Ouattara assume the presidency in 2011, announced his candidacy from France, where he now lives after being charged with planning a coup in 2017. He has denied the allegations.

Ivorian police fired tear-gas Thursday morning at opposition protesters who marched against a third-term bid before Ouattara’s acceptance speech. The ruling party organized parties for people to watch the speech in its stronghold neighborhoods within the commercial capital, Abidjan.

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