Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara appoints KKB to new reconciliation ministry

By Vincent Duhem
Posted on Thursday, 17 December 2020 09:04

Photo : Kouadio Konan Bertin was appointed Minister of National Reconciliation on 15 December 2020. © Vincent Fournier/JA

Alassane Ouattara’s only opponent in the presidential election on 31 October was Kouadio Konan Bertin (KKB) who won 1.99% of the vote.

The “lost soldier” of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) has finally found his way at the age of 52. Kouadio Konan Bertin (KKB) was appointed Minister of National Reconciliation on 15 December. The creation of this new ministry position had been announced the day before by Alassane Ouattara during his inauguration for a third term as president.

KKB had been received in the morning by the Head of State. According to Ouattara, the objective of this new portfolio is “the strengthening of national cohesion and reconciliation of the sons and daughters of Côte d’Ivoire.” His precise roadmap is yet to be determined. Will it involve the relaunch of negotiations with the opposition whose leadership has been entrusted to Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko?

Stalled discussions

After a disputed election marked by much violence, Henri Konan Bédié and Ouattara met on 11 November in Abidjan. However, discussions between the two former allies, who nevertheless maintain contact, are stalled.

READ MORE Côte d’Ivoire presidential election: Opposition threatens boycott

On 9 December, Bédié again publicly challenged the legality of the head of state’s third term. He called for the establishment of a national dialogue to work on the organisation of elections – including presidential ones – so that they may be “transparent, credible and inclusive.” He also called for the release of all imprisoned members of the opposition.

“I have instructed the Prime Minister, Hamed Bakayoko, to resume discussions with political parties to implement the recommendations of ECOWAS relating to the Commission électorale indépendante (CEI) in view of holding legislative elections in the first quarter of 2021,” Ouattara replied on Monday, 14 December.

“The presidential election gave rise to intolerable violence,” the Ivorian president said in his speech, condemning it “with the utmost firmness.” “These serious acts must not go unpunished, we must put an end to impunity in our country, it is a requirement for the respect of human rights, no one is above the law. I want this to be clear.”

The sole opponent to campaigning

During this election, KKB was the only one to campaign against the outgoing president, refusing the call for a boycott of the election and civil disobedience launched by Bédié (PDCI) and Pascal Affi N’Guessan (Ivorian Popular Front, FPI). A position that provoked the ire of the opposition and led to the temporary exclusion of the former deputy of Port-Bouët (from 2011 to 2016) from the PDCI, the party he belongs to.

In addition to the appointment of KKB, Ouattara has decided to confirm General Diomandé Vagondo as Minister of Interior and Security. In charge of Security and Civil Protection since September 2019, he took over from Sidiki Diakité, who died on 23 October.

READ MORE Côte d’Ivoire: Alassane Ouattara re-elected for a 3rd term with 94.27%

A veteran soldier and graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Armed Forces School, Vagondo, 60, is a staunch supporter of Ouattara, for whom he was aide-de-camp from 16 February 1991 until Félix Houphouët-Boigny’s death in December 1993.

He constitutes an essential link in his security system. He was appointed commander of the President’s Security Group (GSPR), the unit responsible for ensuring the safety of the president, in 2011. Vagondo would go on to serve as ADO’s special chief of staff from 2013 to 2019.

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