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Côte d’Ivoire/France: Ouattara refuses Macron’s request to delay polls

By Honoré Banda
Posted on Tuesday, 8 September 2020 11:38

ouattara macron
Presidents Alassane Ouattara Emmanuel Macron, on 4 September at the Elysée palace in Paris. © Presidency of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

At a luncheon at the Elysée Palace on 4 September, French President Emmanuel Macron shared with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara his concerns about the socio-political climate in Côte d'Ivoire in the run-up to the presidential election. This annoyed his counterpart.

According to our information, Emmanuel Macron said he feared that the disputed third term of office of his Ivorian counterpart could lead to socio-political tensions in the country, as violence has already resulted in several deaths in various localities in mid-August.

READ MORE Côte d’Ivoire’s Ouattara announces third term bid in October vote

The French president suggested to Alassane Ouattara (ADO) that the election be postponed to allow him, Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié to step down. This delay would give him the opportunity to facilitate the opening of a dialogue with his two main opponents and to find a successor to carry out the “generational change” initially promised.

But the Ivorian head of state refused.

Remote-controlled” violence

The latter, very determined, reminded his host that he had no choice but to run again after the death of his designated dolphin, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, on 8 July.

READ MORE Côte d’Ivoire’s RHDP party seeks new candidate after Coulibaly’s death

ADO also assured him that there was no need to worry about how events might turn out. He assured him that the situation is now “under control,” explaining that the latest bout of violence was very localised and was being remotely guided by Henri Konan Bédié and Simone Gbagbo. A resolutely optimistic discourse sometimes leading, according to a French source, to Èoverconfidence”.

Bédié, Gbagbo and Soro

For his part, Emmanuel Macron alerted his counterpart to the risk of a post-electoral crisis if gestures of appeasement were not made before the elections. In addition to a postponement of the election, the case of Laurent Gbagbo and his return to Côte d’Ivoire was also raised. The French head of state insisted on the mobilisation capacities of the former Ivorian president and the need to reach an agreement with him.

ADO replied that once re-elected, he would initiate a reconciliation with Henri Konan Bédié and Laurent Gbagbo and that he would promote the latter’s return to the country. A possible release of deputies close to Guillaume Soro detained in Abidjan was also discussed.

READ MORE African presidents extending terms: ‘Let’s express our disapproval loud and clear’

Alassane Ouattara nevertheless complained about the behaviour of Soro – the former president of the Ivorian National Assembly – who is adding to the criticisms against him from Paris. Emmanuel Macron replied that he could not prevent an opponent from expressing himself on the politics of his country but that he did not accept it being used as an argument during an election campaign.

The Elysée Palace therefore urged him to stop his “unacceptable” personal attacks against the president.

 

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