Photograph — BBC

Alassane Ouattara, the president of Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) has disclosed that he will not be seeking a 3rd term re-election in the next presidential election in October 2020, after completing his 2nd tenure of 10 years.

According to the Africa Report, the Ivorian president made the announcement while addressing 352 parliamentarians gathered in Congress in the ‘’Amphitheatre of the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Foundation’’ in Yamoussoukro.

Additionally, the president released a message via his verified personal Twitter account saying “I would like to solemnly announce that I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election of 31 October 2020 and to transfer power to a younger generation.”

Prior to his announcement, he hardly gave straightforward responses on his intention to seek a 3rd term, causing many to assume he would contest.

Ouattara’s decision was received with shock by Ivorians and the political world at large. This is because Ouattara started the year proposing to amend the electoral constitution of the country, which seemed to favour a possible 3rd term agenda or discourage potential candidates.

Thus, leading to an outcry by political opposition, who accused Ouattara of trying to impose age restrictions to discourage previous Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, 74, and Henri Konan Bedie, 85 from contesting elections.

However, The Ivorian leader issued a counter-statement saying. ‘’I would like to reassure one and all that this is not about ‘stalling’ anyone. As I have said, anyone can be a candidate,” I have just turned 78 and I’m not thinking about excluding anyone, myself included. Ouattara said.

There is an evident trend of African leaders, manipulating the constitution to favour an extension of their tenure. For example in 2019, west African country, Togo changed its political constitution to allow its president Faure Gnassingbe to remain in office till 2030 regardless of the widespread protest in the country.

Ouattara’s choice shows an example, that African leaders can embrace, by simply serving their terms and leaving the presidential office for other promising candidates as opposed to manipulating for personal agenda.

It will be recalled that in 2011, Ivory coast had its second civil war (estimated death of 3000 lives) as a result of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to quit office after losing presidential elections to Alassane Ouattara. This led to the intervention of its colonizer, France, which deployed about 2,000 troops for peacekeeping operations.

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