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Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara reins in his troops at an emergency meeting

By Baudelaire Mieu
Posted on Monday, 16 November 2020 16:32

President Alassane Ouattara speaks to journalists after voting at a polling station during presidential elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

The Ivorian president summoned a meeting of several of his ministers and RHDP party officials to take stock of the country’s pre and post election violence.

The Ivorian presidency held an emergency meeting last week on 12 November. Alassane Ouattara summoned members of his administration and figures affiliated with the Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) hailing from the 16 regions impacted by violence before, during and after the 31 October presidential election. The work session took place behind closed doors in a meeting room at the president’s residence and wasn’t included in Ouattara’s official schedule.

The head of state asked several of his ministers and RHDP officials to present their assessment of the situation. Adama Bictogo, executive director of the president’s party, Alain-Richard Donwahi, water and forests minister, and Aka Aouelé, health minister, took the floor in turn, expressing their disapproval of “young people high on drugs and weaponised by the opposition”, according to an anonymous source who attended the meeting.

Reined in ministers

Ouattara, who was “very hurt and devastated” by the violence, immediately reined in those in attendance. “He held his party’s officials to account and touched on the failures in the area of training young activists, in spite of all the efforts undertaken over the past few years,” our source said.

The president also mentioned that he regretted that a portion of the money invested in this campaign hadn’t reached his base of supporters.

He then went on to stress that going forward his priority would be to “reconcile and calm the country”, hence his talks with Henri Konan Bédié, president of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), and, very shortly, with his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo.

During the discussion, Ouattara also assured that Guillaume Soro had been asked by the French authorities to leave the country as soon as 7 November, i.e., a few days after the former National Assembly president made remarks that were, to say the least, aggressive.

Too early to talk about legislative elections

Some RHDP officials wanted to address legislative election-related issues, but Ouattara stopped them in their tracks, as he didn’t feel it was the right moment to broach the topic, affirming that he wished to take his time so as to organise inclusive legislative elections in which all of the country’s political forces could participate, according to our source.

READ MORE Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara starts third term by jailing opposition leader

In addition, the Ivorian president – seeking to restore his somewhat tarnished image in the wake of his third term bid and pre- and post-election violence that resulted in at least 85 deaths, according to official figures – informed the room of his intention to carry out an “extensive” government reshuffle.

He also promised his audience that his latest term of office will be his last and that he had no intention of naming an heir apparent, as he had done with Amadou Gon Coulibaly, his former prime minister who died on 8 July. According to another attendee who also asked that their name be withheld, “Ouattara made it clear to the members of his party that the ambitious ones wanting to succeed him should begin their preparations now.”

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