Ally of Côte d’Ivoire president rejects plan for ‘unified party’

Côte d’Ivoire’s Democratic Party, a member of the ruling coalition, on Sunday rejected a proposal to form a unified party ahead of the 2020 presidential election, a plan which was supported by President Alassane Ouattara.

“The political office of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), reassures members … of the determination of the party to regain power in 2020,” the party said in a final statement after six hours of debate.

The party also decided to postpone its 13th congress until after the 2020 polls.

“The members are generally satisfied,” party executive secretary and former commerce minister Jean-Louis Billon said.

The PDCI meeting comes two weeks after Ouattara suggested he could seek a third term after his mandate ends in 2020.

“The new constitution authorises me to do two terms from 2020. I will only make my final decision at that point, on the basis of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. The overwhelming priorities are stability and peace,” Ouattara said in an interview with magazine Jeune Afrique.

Ouattara came to power after a bloody five-month crisis in 2010-11.

READ MORE: Pro-Ouattara rebel leaders charged with war crimes

He ousted the then-president, Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down after losing elections and is now on trial in The Hague for war crimes. Violence between supporters of the two rivals claimed about 3 000 lives.

Ouattarra’s RDR liberal party last month voted to back the formation of a large “unified party” with its allies but said there should be a primary to choose its candidate before the presidential polls.

Transformation of the ruling coalition into a unified party has been a recurring theme in Ivorian politics over the past decade.

Ouattara backs the plan, which has met resistence within the party and also from its allies in the PDCI, notably party leader and former Ivorian president Henri Konan Bédié, who attended Sunday’s meeting.

One of the main stumbling blocks is the nomination of a candidate for the presidential election, since the PDCI believes it should now be its turn after having twice supported the RDR candidate.

© Agence France-Presse

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