The news was like a bomb. On March 5, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said during his state of the nation address that he would not be running for a third term.
The head of state, who has always maintained the vagueness on the question, had nevertheless embarked on a reform of the Constitution which hinted to the contrary. The first surprised were the members of the Senate and the deputies who came to listen to it at a congress in Yamoussoukro.
“President Ouattara’s words raised a round of applause for some, cries of disapproval for others”, says the Abidjan Intelligent. Members of the government, elected officials and executives seemed not to expect it, or gave the impression of not wanting to believe that the head of state would go through with his appointment. We could, for example, see Minister Kandia Camara burst into tears, and the deputies Dah Sansan Tikouelté and Alphonse Djédjé remain speechless ”.
A decision that “lowers the tension” The news, which therefore reacted a lot to the political seraglio, was also widely commented in the press, which, in its majority, welcomed the president’s decision.
“Alassane Ouattara leaves power with elegance”, headlines the Ivorian newspaper Fraternité Matin in an editorial, which even goes as far as comparing the gesture of the Head of State to that of Nelson Mandela, “the only precedent in Africa ahead of state leaving power while the law allows him to continue.”
“Thank you Alassane Ouattara for having, by your greatness, saved Africa from being singled out again …” wrote the journalist, who believes that, by making this choice, “the head of state has succeeded in to lower the tension in the country, to play down the future ”.
This opinion is shared by the Ivorian Connection information site , for whom “the major decision” taken by the president relieved the pressure and “dispels the psychosis of a violent confrontation around the election”. This “promising future” predicted by the media signs, for his colleague Abidjan.net , “the end of a cycle”. That of the gerontocratic class of which he is a part, and who will have sealed the Ivorian political life during the three decades – since the disappearance of the deceased Félix Houphouët-Boigny in 1993 – in interminable crises “, affirms the site.
The battle of the candidates. However, the idea of a fight between the caciques of Ivorian power is not entirely buried. Because the withdrawal of Alassane Ouattara puts “the games are open” for Henri Konan Bédié and Laurent Gbagbo, says Fraternité Matin. If the decision of the head of state can “shake up” the two former presidents “suspected of wanting to be candidates”, “a sling in their party is not to be excluded, explains the daily.
For Morning Brotherhood, “The RHDP [the NDLR ruling party] convention process could start sooner than expected, and the candidate nominated at the end of March 2020, instead of the estimated July 2020”.
According to the newspaper, he would be none other than the current Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly. “It is envisaged in the coming weeks the appointment of a new Prime Minister to release the prospective candidate (Amadou Gon Coulibaly), charges linked to the conduct of the State, and allow him to deploy on the ground, in pre-campaign pending the campaign, “he believes.
Is this a strategic withdrawal? Nevertheless, “the battle for the conquest of the palace of Cocody will be very bitter,” judges the Burkinabe media. “Because everything is happening, in fact, as if we are moving towards a united front (Bédié – Gbagbo – Soro) against the RHDP of Alassane Dramane Ouattara.
We can, therefore, understand why certain Ivorian political actors, rightly or wrongly, suspect ADO of wanting, thanks to the constitutional revision underway, to reduce the presidential election to one round so as to avoid any unpleasant surprise for its foal Amadou Gon Coulibaly which some say is no match, ”we can read in the article. And to underline: “We must not lose sight of the fact that we are in politics where all means are good to retain power. ”
For Ivorian Connection, too, “Alassane Ouattara […] may not have said his last word”. Because “for those who know Alassane Ouattara since entering politics, this president who forced his destiny never makes a decision if he does not have in his bag a bow that compensates for it,” says the news site.
According to the Country, the head of state still has a card in hand: that of the constitutional revision. In an article written before the March 5 announcement, the newspaper writes that “the question is whether this Constitution will not be tailored to the head of state”.
With the constitutional reform, the president could “secure his back in an electoral competition where his political formation, the RHDP (Rally of houphétistes pour la paix), seems engaged in a fight to the death against the other big parties; parties that would certainly not be asked to gang up on him in the event of a second round. ”
Still, public opinion should accept this possibility. Because by pretexting a withdrawal for a transfer of power to the young generations, Alassane Ouattara undermines the credibility of the two other expected cadors.
The scope of this sentence would indeed aim, according to Abidjan.net, “to dismiss his political opponents displayed”, “Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié, one in the process of becoming octogenarian like him, and the other soon nonagenarian “, recalls the site.
An analysis also made by Ivorian Connection, who thinks that “behind this new option could be the sidelining of people of his generation. Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié in this case ”. “When he retires, he would like to see the two former presidents follow his example or, failing that, compel them,” said the media.
And an amendment to the Constitution, to come in the coming weeks, may well carry out its will. “An amendment which introduces the upper age limit even at the age of 75 would de facto eliminate these two personalities.
And according to rumors circulating, among the measures envisaged by the President of the Republic, this reform does figure, reveals Ivorian Connection. Here, the president played a little tactical by starting with himself so as to make the news less bitter when Bédié and Gbagbo will learn from the end of March who are no longer personally concerned by the future election. ”
An “example” to follow for Alpha Condé. With the news of Alassane Ouattara’s withdrawal, the entire national political scene is shaken. But this decision also calls out throughout the sub-region.
The president’s decision “thus shows that he is capable of renouncing to attach himself to the best interests of the nation”. Or “quite the opposite of a certain … Alpha Condé, who goes out of his way to cling to power”, assures the newspaper which deplores in an article with an evocative subtitle – “Laurels for teenagers, a hat donkey for Alpha Condé “- that” while the sun rises over Abidjan, the clouds are only piling up on Conakry “. Suspected of running for a third term through constitutional amendment, the Guinean president also prohibited, on March 5, a protest march by the opposition.
Unlike Alassane Ouattara, “Alpha Condé despite his 82 years, inexorably leads his country towards a civil war, in his will to amend the constitution to agree to remain in power for life”, also deplores Fraternité Matin . For Le Djély , the reaction of Emmanuel Macron to the decision of the Ivorian president, who affirms that “Côte d’Ivoire sets an example”, is nothing other than a foot call to the head of the State. “We can hope they will have understood!” Whether they are also called Alpha Condé or Paul Biya! “Concludes the Guinean newspaper.