Alassane Ouattara pulls out of the 2020 presidential election

By Vincent Duhem, in Yamoussoukro

Posted on Friday, 6 March 2020 08:07
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara giving a speech in Berlin on 19 November © John MacDougall/AP/SIPA

The Ivorian president announced that he will not stand in the October 2020 presidential election. Alassane Ouattara justified his decision, claiming he was "respecting [his] commitments".

“Throughout my career, I have always attached particular importance to honouring my commitments. Consequently, I have decided not to be a candidate in 2020,” Ouattara said Thursday. “It has been an honour to serve my country.”

The Ivorian president was speaking to the 352 parliamentarians gathered in Congress in the amphitheatre of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation in Yamoussoukro.

“I would like to solemnly announce that I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election of 31 October 2020 and to transfer power to a younger generation,” he subsequently wrote on his Twitter account.

A lesson for all African presidents?

There were many who commented on the decision.

Adama Bictogo, executive director of the Rally of the Houphouëtists (RHDP) for Democracy and Peace, the presidential party, said, “It’s the expression of a great man, a man of honour. Now that he has everything to stay in power, he’s leaving. This is a lesson for all African presidents and former presidents.”

Mamadou Touré, deputy government spokesman, said, “We have all been taken by surprise. We didn’t know that it would be announced today. It is a decision that we welcomed with great emotion, which poses the RHDP the challenge of unity and cohesion to win its elections and perpetuate the work of President Ouattara.”

Anne Ouloto, Minister of Health, Environment and Sustainable Development, stated, “The President emphasized national unity and reconciliation, peace building. He acted with great responsibility. This is a great lesson that he is giving to the political class.”

Political analyst Sylvain N’Guessan was more circumspect. “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, namely, to bring Marcel Amon-Tanoh and Albert Toikeusse Mabri to align themselves behind Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Prime Minister and dolphin of the Head of State. It also aims to take Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bedié by surprise.”

Doubt of old

First elected in 2010 and then re-elected in 2015, Ouattara has long left it in doubt as to whether he would be a candidate for a third term.

However, last December, during a state visit to the Hambol, he declared, “I do not wish to be a candidate. It is my firm belief that after two terms in office, the hand must be passed on. Next year I will be 78 years old. What you can do at 68, you can no longer do at 78, let alone 85 or 86. From that point on, I think it is better that all those of my generation decide for themselves not to run for office.”

Ouattara had also pointed out, without naming them by name, the possible candidacies of the two former presidents, Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié.

“If they decide to be [candidates], given their track record, their inability to manage Côte d’Ivoire, I will find another solution, including that of continuing,” he affirmed.

Revision of the Constitution

Before announcing he would not be a candidate, Ouattara gave some information on the revision of the Constitution, the draft of which will be adopted Friday in the Council of Ministers.

The Head of State has decided to abolish the presidential “ticket”. The Vice-President will thus be appointed by the elected Head of State, with the agreement of Parliament.

Another change is the term of office of parliamentarians will be extended in the event that elections cannot be held on time.

Finally, the new text will enshrine the Court of Cassation and the Council of State as institutions of the Republic in the same way as the Court of Audit. The Supreme Court is also abolished.

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