The top court in Ivory Coast on Monday cleared the way for a controversial third term for President Elassen Autara, as protests turned violent in several cities and fears escalated by a repeat of a conflict that a decade earlier left the West African country. Claimed 3,000 lives.
The Constitutional Council also stopped former President Laurent Gagbo and the former rebel leader barred Prime Minister Gilliam Soro from standing in the presidential election next month.
It approved only four of the 44 candidates for the October 31 presidential election.
Other candidates made it clear that from the historically dominant PDCI party are former President Henry Konan Bedi, Gagbo former Prime Minister Pascal Afi N’Guson and Coudio Konan Bertin, who were dissatisfied with Bedi’s party.
In the financial capital Abidjan, protesters set fire to a bus in the district of the work area after a day-long scuffle between security forces and youths.
The district is considered to be the fief of exiled former president Gagbo, whose supporters applied to vote for him.
It was Gagbo’s refusal to give up on Ottara after the 2010 election, which sparked a bloody conflict in the former French colony, formerly a symbol of stability and prosperity in the region.
In the center-west city of Bungolo, protesters opened fire on a mining truck and other vehicles on Monday, according to a resident, who said the lingamandal dispersed them with tear gas.
Witnesses said security forces toppled barricades planted by protesters on several roads in the west of the country.
Ottara, about 15 people have died in the violence since 78, announced last month that he would run for a third term.
The unrest has left political observers worried that the votes could destabilize Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer and French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy.
Although the Constitution limits presidents to two words, Autara and his supporters argue that the 2016 constitutional tweak resets the clock.
The president had previously committed not to run again, but changed his mind after the sudden death of his anointed successor – Prime Minister Amadou Gon Culibelli, due to a heart attack in July.
The Election Commission has said that anyone convicted of the crime will be disqualified and has already barred Soro from running as he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in April “for embezzlement of public money”.
Gagbo has been sentenced to 20 years in absentia for robbery at the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the 2010–11 crisis.
Former President Henry Conan Bedi is considered the chief flag bearer of the opposition, and his PDCI party on Saturday nominated the 86-year-old as its candidate.
After attending a rally of thousands of supporters in the capital Yamassukro, Bedi promised that if he would be “chosen to work for the unconditional return of all the exiles, as well as all political, civil from the post-election crisis” And the release of military supporters “.
Bedi is trying to return to the presidency after being ousted in the country’s first coup in 1999.