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Côte d’Ivoire: Henri Konan Bédié faces pressure from all sides

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Monday, 9 November 2020 18:13

Former Ivory Coast President Henri Konan Bedie, president of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) speaks next to Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, in Abidjan
Henri Konan Bedie, speaks next to Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa, after a meeting with Ivorian opposition coalition parties in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire November 2, 2020. REUTER/ Luc Gnago

While Henri Konan Bédié received Western ambassadors at his home on 4 November, several West African heads of state offered to mediate. What are the growing pressures being exerted today on the president of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire?

After the announcement of the formation of a “National Transition Council” chaired by Henri Konan Bédié (HKB), the president of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire’s (PDCI) villa in Cocody was surrounded by police on the afternoon of 3 November. The 86-year-old former president and his wife, Henriette, have been under house arrest ever since, and several of his relatives have been arrested.

At 12:30 pm on 4 November, the ambassadors of the European Union, France, UK and the US arrived at Cocody to meet with him. But HKB told them that he did not want to receive them alone and that he wanted some of his collaborators to be present.

The meeting finally took place in the early evening. The “Sphinx of Daoukro” was accompanied by General Ouassénan Koné, one of the vice-presidents of his party, and two lawyers.

Non-negotiable stipulation

HKB first advocated for the establishment of international mediation and the involvement of the UN in the current crisis. The western ambassadors encouraged him to renounce the National Transitional Council, explaining that it was a pointless organisation, which no foreign partner supports. Alassane Ouattara, current president of Côte d’Ivoire, known for being unyielding towards his opponents, made it a non-negotiable condition before taking the slightest step towards them.

At the end of this first discussion aimed at renewing dialogue and finding common ground between the two camps, it was agreed to set up a new appointment at the end of the week.

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Western diplomats also met with Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko, who is managing this case on behalf of the Head of State. According to a diplomatic source, the tone of the ongoing discussions with both sides is “encouraging”.

Moreover, on 1 November, the day after a voting day marked by several incidents and even before the announcement of the results, French President Emmanuel Macron had called Ouattara to urge him to quickly adopt measures to appease his opponents.

READ MORE Côte d’Ivoire: Guillaume Soro calls on army to block Alassane Ouattara

Coincidentally, several West African heads of state have expressed their desire to try to resolve the Ivorian crisis. Senagalese president Macky Sall thus communicated with HKB on the evening of 3 November. He also met with former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, also the current president of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), who had received Bédié in Accra before the 31 October elections, also showed his willingness to play a role in easing the pressure on his neighbours. In contact with his Ivorian counterpart and his opponent, he is currently studying any leeway he might have before making a more formal commitment.

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