Thousands of opposition supporters have rallied in Abidjan to protest against Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara’s plan to seek a third term, as tensions rise in the lead-up to the country’s high-stakes election. Three weeks before the October 31 vote, some 20,000 people made their way into a stadium in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital by early afternoon on Saturday, with some holding banners reading: “The people say no to an illegal third term.”
Ouattara, 78, announced in August he will seek another term after the sudden death of his handpicked successor the previous month created a leadership vacuum at the governing RDHP party.
The president’s decision infuriated the opposition who says Ouattara is violating the constitution by seeking another term. Ouattara, in power for a decade, says a 2016 constitutional change means his two-term limit has been reset.
The constitutional council has cleared him and three other candidates to run, including 86-year-old former President Henri Konan Bedie. Those barred include Ouattara’s predecessor Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, both of whom played key roles in a crisis that claimed more than 3,000 lives after disputed elections a decade ago. Both men are living outside the country but retain powerful support at home.
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