Côte d’Ivoire: Tidjane Thiam and Alassane Ouattara, the rapprochement continues

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Thursday, 9 June 2022 11:14

Tidjane Thiam, 2 December 2021 at the RFI studios. ©François Grivelet for Jeune Afrique

After receiving the president’s green light, the Franco-Ivorian banker visited Côte d’Ivoire’s embassy in Paris to start the procedure to obtain his passport.

Since Alassane Ouattara (ADO) and Tidjane Thiam met in Brussels last February on the sidelines of the African Union-European Union summit, their relationship has been warming up. According to our sources, at the end of May, the Ivorian president and his wife, Dominique Ouattara, had lunch at their residence in Mougins (southern France) with the former CEO of Credit Suisse and his companion. Current affairs as well as more personal issues were discussed.

Return date fixed

During this meal, in a private conversation with the president, the banker asked for an Ivorian passport. ADO accepted his request and promised to instruct Maurice Bandaman, the Ivorian ambassador to France, to facilitate the process. According to our sources, Tidjane Thiam plans to return to Abidjan at the end of June. He is expected to be received by the president.

Following the lunch in Mougins, the banker made a trip to Côte d’Ivoire’s embassy in Paris on 7 June, where he was received by Bandaman.

Although his relationship with the president seems to be on good terms, there is nothing to suggest that Thiam will be offered a place of choice in the Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la démocratie et la Paix (RHDP, the ruling party): Ouattara has not made any promises in this regard.

In 2020, in the wake of the presidential election, Thiam had already considered returning to Côte d’Ivoire. His relatives had specially arranged a villa for him in the posh district of Beverly Hills, in Cocody, where Prime Minister Patrick Achi and Vice President Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, among others, reside. But due to the violence that had marred the election, the banker chose to delay the trip.

If his relations with Henri Konan Bédié, the leader of the Parti démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) are tense once again, Thiam’s relationship with former head of state Laurent Gbagbo has improved. After the December 1999 military coup against President Bédié – for whom he was minister of planning and development – Thiam left the country in the early 2000s to pursue a career abroad. He has not returned since, despite the death of his brother, Daouda, in October 2018, and his sister, N’Deye, in May 2019.

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