Thousands of opposition party supporters in Côte d’Ivoire have rallied in Abidjan to protest against President Alassane Ouattara’s plan to seek a third term in the 31 October presidential election.
By early afternoon (10 October) around 20,000 people had packed a 35,000 capacity stadium in Abidjan, chanting and dancing. Some held banners saying, “the people say no to an illegal third term,” Reuters reports.
Ouattara announced in August that he would seek another term following the sudden death of his handpicked successor.
The constitutional council has cleared him and three other candidates to run.
But the opposition says Ouattara is violating the constitution by seeking another term and has called for a civil disobedience campaign.
Alassane Ouattara who has been in power for a decade, says a 2016 constitutional change means his two-term limit has been reset.
Over a dozen people have been killed in violent protests, sparking memories of 2010-11, when 3,000 people died in the civil war following a disputed election that Ouattara won.
Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s top cocoa producing nation.
A call to postpone the election
“My advice to President Ouattara is that Ivorians should sit down to discuss. We want peace. We don’t want war,” Eve Botti, a supporter of the FPI opposition party, told Reuters at the rally.
Sie Coulibaly, a supporter of former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, whose candidacy was rejected, said he came to the rally to say no to Ouattara’s third term. Soro is in exile in France.
The opposition has called for the election to be postponed but have stopped short of saying they will boycott the poll.
The ruling party says the election will take place regardless of whether the opposition participates.
Campaigning for the election is expected to start on 15 October.
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