19 June 2018

Cameroon: Côte d'Ivoire - PDCI Postpones Merger With Ouattara's Party

Ex-President Henri Konan Bédié's party says it will field a candidate in the 2020 presidential election.

The long-standing alliance between two of Côte d'Ivoire's largest political parties, the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire, PDCI, of former President Henri Konan Bédié and the Rally of Democrats, RDR of current Head of State Alasanne Dramane Ouattara, now hangs in the balance.

This followed a June 16, 2018 meeting by over 600 PDCI executive members who resolved to postpone merger talks with RDR until after the 2020 presidential election, Radio France International, RFI reported on June 18, 2018.

The political bureau members said it was PDCI's turn to field a candidate in the next presidential poll after supporting RDR's Alassane Ouattara in 2010 and 2015. After six hours of discussions, PDCI executive members approved the deal to merge PDCI with RDR and other smaller parties, but did not fix any party congress this year to seal the agreement before elections in 2020.

"The political bureau decides to postpone the 13th PDCI/RDA congress until after the 2020 presidential election. The political bureau reassures party members and supporters of the party's determination to reconquer power in 2020," N'Dri Kouadio Narcisse, PDCI spokesman told the press. "The question of party merger will be discussed after PDCI takes over power in 2020 and we are so happy with the decision," commented a young party supporter.

Observers say the PDCI's sudden change of mind is a response to a statement earlier this month by President Alassane Ouattara. In an interview with French language weekly, Jeune Afrique on June 3, 2018, Ouattara said he was free to stand for a third term in 2020 under the new constitution. "I will only make a definite decision then, based on the situation in Ivory Coast. Stability and peace come before all else, including my principles," he said.

Voted in November 2016, the new constitution scraps a provision in the previous version requiring both of a presidential candidates' parents to be natural-born Ivorian citizens. This was used to disqualify Ouattara from the 2000 election and helped to fuel tensions that eventually saw the country split into two from 2002 to 2011.

Under Ouattara, Côte d'Ivoire, the world's top cocoa producer, has routinely recorded some of the highest economic growth rates in Africa, but historical divisions based on ethnicity, land and religion have not healed.

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