Political Crisis in Cote D’Ivoire

In early March Cote D’Ivoire president Alassane Ouatarra announced that he would not seek a constitutionally dubious third term in office. Instead, he he said he would pass the baton to a new generation of Ivorian leadership.

Then, in July, his preferred successor suddenly died. Alassane Ouatarra opted to run again for president of Cote d’Ivoire in elections scheduled for October 31.

His decision sparked protests among the supporters of the opposition, which called for civil disobedience against what they allege to be an unconstitutional move. Violent crackdowns and clashes ensued, with many people killed.

The situation in Cote D’Ivoire is very tense ahead of elections that are scheduled for October 31. There is deep concern of violence surrounding the election, not least because the country has a history of election related violence.

When Ouatarra was first elected in 2010 the sitting president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to leave office. Some 3,000 people were killed in the ensuing violence, which lead to a dramatic intervention by the French military, who arrested Gbagbo. He was subsequently transferred to International Criminal Court, where he was wanted for crimes against humanity. Gbagbo was not convicted during the trial, and though he lives in exile he seeks to stand in the coming elections. Meanwhile, a third longtime figure of Ivorian politics, former president Henri Konan Bédié  is also seeking the presidency.

This is a very chaotic situation with high potential for escalatory violence, according to my guest today Mohammad Diatta, a researcher with the Institute for Security Studies.

We kick off discussing the decision of Ouatarra to seek re-election and the consequences  it is having on the ground in Cote D’Ivoire today. We then discuss the history of rivalry between the three men who have dominated Ivorian politics for the last 30 years before having an extended discussion about the prospects of election related violence.


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