ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Two main opposition leaders in Ivory Coast who pose the strongest threat to incumbent President Alassane Ouattara filed on Thursday to become official candidates for their parties in the October elections.
Pascal Affi N’Guessan of the Ivorian Popular Front party of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo presented his candidacy after the courts rejected a bid from the former president to run again.
N’Guessan, a former prime minister and telecoms engineer, is running against Ouattara for a second time after losing to him in the 2015 presidential election with about 9.2% of votes. He presents himself as the “unifying” candidate, though his own party faces internal struggles with some members loyal to Gbagbo.
Former president Henri Konan Bedie also filed his candidacy for the PDCI-RDA party. The 86-year-old led the country from 1993-1999.
The two opposition leaders object to Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term in the October elections, calling his candidacy unconstitutional. Opposition parties have called on him to withdraw his candidacy.
Ouattara has been in power since 2010 and earlier this year promised not to run again. However, the ruling party nominated him as its candidate after its previous nominee, Prime Minister Amadou Coulibaly, died in July from a heart attack.
Ouattara has said the death of the prime minister left a void and argued that because changes were made to the constitution in 2016, the two-term limit does not apply to his previous terms.
Ouattara’s decision has revived political tensions in the West African nation, and at least six people have been killed and many others injured in violent protests since his announcement.
There are worries that more unrest will come before the elections.
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