NewsWest AfricaPolitical rift in Ivory Coast raises concerns for 2020


Posted on Friday, 12 October 2018 12:20

Political rift in Ivory Coast raises concerns for 2020

By Reuters

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, center, arrives at his inauguration ceremony in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, Saturday, May 21, 2011. Photo: Emanuel Ekra/AP/SIPAAfter more than a decade as allies, two of Ivory Coast's largest political parties face off in local elections on Saturday (October 13) after an acrimonious divorce that is making Ivorians nervous ahead of a presidential poll in 2020.

The alliance struck in 2005 between President Alassane Ouattara's RDR and former President Henri Konan Bedie's PDCI was meant to dominate for generations and help heal the political rifts that led to civil war three years earlier.

But the pact that propelled Ouattara to presidential election victories in 2010 and 2015 collapsed last month as the parties bickered over whose candidate should be in pole position next time round.

Now, both the RDR (Rassemblement des Republicains) and PDCI (Parti Democratique de la Cote d'Ivoire) are casting Saturday's vote for hundreds of mayors and regional council seats as a test of strength heading into 2020.

Some voters said the coalition split had heightened their concerns about a return to violence.

Recriminations are starting

"Sincerely, I'm a little afraid of what we're seeing now," said voter Doimande Riverain. "I think if it goes on like this, we'll have problems in 2020."

And the recriminations are starting. Ouattara's supporters have accused the PDCI of reverting to the tribal politics of Ivory Coast's blood-soaked past. The PDCI says Ouattara's government is drifting toward authoritarianism.

At stake is the stability of francophone West Africa's largest economy and the world's biggest cocoa producer, which is still recovering from a short civil war that led to Ouattara's victory in 2010 over incumbent Laurent Gbagbo being confirmed.

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