Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he would run for third term after being nominated by his ruling party. This decision came after the death of his preferred successor, the country’s ex-Prime Minister who died in July. Mr Ouattara has been ruling Ivory Coast since 2011 after replacing the then-President Gbagbo. Getting him to power cost the country more than 3000 lives as French forces and regional mercenaries paraded the city to forcefully remove defying Laurent Gbagbo.
The opposition parties argue that his bid for a third term is unconstitutional due to the two-term limit provision clearly spelled out by the constitution, but Ouattara seems to differ. According to him, his first two-terms should not be counted for the fact that the new constitution was adopted in 2016, five years after becoming president of Ivory Coast.
In a televised speech on Thursday, this is what Ouattara has to say, “I have decided to respond favorably to the call of my fellow citizens… given my previous promise, the decision to re-run represents a real sacrifice for me.” Such speech is not new to West Africans as it’s the same script being repeated by many power-hungry presidents anytime they want to defy the constitution for re-election.
Elsewhere in Guinea Conakry, 82-year-old Alpha Conde is using similar tactics to seek re-election in the upcoming election by amending the constitution just to accommodate his third-term bid. Both Conde and Ouattara have close ties with France, who once colonized both Guinea and Ivory Coast. Alpha Conde studied and spent most of his life in France while Ouattara was once a top executive at the Central Bank of Franco-phone African countries, the bank responsible for the issuance of the CFA currency, which France has a very strong interest.
Recently, Ouattara, in partnership with France, agreed to adopt the ECO currency in replacement of the CFA without consulting other leaders from English speaking West African countries. The move disappointed many ECOWAS leaders, including the Nigerian President, because the ECO project was initiated almost 18-years ago by West African countries who are not using the CFA; thus, Ouattara’s move was perceived by many as a ‘hijack’.
Aside Alassane Ouattara’s unconstitutional decision to run being a possible threat to peace and security in the country, it will set a bad precedence for future President’s to equally look for loopholes to defy the constitution and remain in power for a long time; an act which defeats the purpose for which democratic governance was established.