The death of Amadou Gon Coulibaly on 8 July has left the Ivorian political party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la démocratie et la paix – RHDP) without a candidate for the presidential election. Who can fill in his shoes?
Henri Konan Bédié: “They have gone to get all the Malians”
PDCI President Henri Konan Bédié accused the ruling RHDP of "recruiting Malians" to bolster a rally in Paris. These comments - recalling the country's xenophobic past - provoked controversy, even within his own party.
This is the second controversial outburst by the leader of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) in five months. This time, it was the leaders of the Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la démocratie et la paix (RHDP) he decided to attack.
“Today, we can say that their disillusionment is great. And their enthusiasm gradually fades with each of their timid outings, where they keep transporting real fake militants in an attempt to mislead national and international opinion, as was recently the case in Paris and Sinfra,” Bédié said on 14 November last, during his party’s Political Bureau meeting.
Faced with an audience committed to his cause, the President of the PDCI then set aside his written speech to embark on an improvised projection. “In Paris, it was indeed a meeting for which they picked up all the Malians at the exit!”
The old leader, galvanized by the cheers, continued. “But let me finish, by the way. On a Friday, they went to the exit of the 1 p.m. mass, giving 100 euros to all the militants of this mosque. It is the mosque of Toits-Rouges in Paris…”
A manager, sitting next to him, then slips a few words into his ear.
Bédié corrects himself, it is not the mosque of Toits-Rouges – a district of Abidjan – “it is the mosque of Château Rouge” [a neighbourhood in the north of Paris].
But Henri Konan Bédié omits an important “detail”: the RHDP meeting did not take place on a Friday – the day of the great weekly prayer for Muslims – but on a Saturday…
However confusing they may be, these comments were immediately widely relayed on social networks. Some denounce a “xenophobic” rant, others greet the “audacity” of the PDCI president.
“Why does President Bédié see foreigners everywhere? And why does he only see strangers? This way of doing politics makes it nauseating and gives the PDCI the image of a political party with a moribund political offer. The party deserves better,” worries political analyst Sylvain N’Guessan.
Bad old days
In early May, his release against “foreigners” had raised controversy, to the point that the government threatened him with legal action.
But this time, his comments about the alleged presence of Malians at an RHDP meeting in Paris were denounced, even within his ranks.
Sources say a delegation of elected officials and young people from the PDCI plans to meet with him to ask him to be more measured in his remarks.