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To run or not: Ivorians await Ouattara's third term move

Ivory Coast

The ruling party in Ivory Coast has to return to the drawing table to pick a candidate who can win upcoming polls. The RHDP currently led by president Ouattara was plunged into disarray on Thursday after the sudden death of its candidate for the October polls.

The candidate was Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Commentators said his demise was a devastating blow to a country still scarred by a low-level civil war.

The news headlines captured their sentiments: “Ivory Coast in a state of shock,” headlined the daily L’Inter. “Thunderclap,” said Soir Info. “Sledgehammer blow,” said Fraternite Matin.

Coulibaly was appointed prime minister in 2017, tasked with pursuing economic recovery in a country battered by slumping prices for its key exports of cocoa and coffee. The French-educated engineer gained a reputation for hard work and a fiery temper.

The 61-year-old was named in March as the candidate for President Alassane Ouattara’s RHDP party ending months of speculation as to whether the 78-year-old incumbent would run again.

Citizens and analysts are back in the speculation zone after reports emerged that the president could be on the ballot again. A day after Coulibaly’s demise, the RHDP said it would consider Ouattara’s candidacy for a third term.

“All options are on the table, including a new candidacy for President Ouattara,” the party’s executive director Adama Bictogo said as he arrived to a meeting of the party’s political council.

In 2011, Ouattara defeated the then-president, Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to leave office after losing elections. The months-long standoff claimed some 3,000 lives and left divisions that linger today.

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