Four civilians have reportedly died in demonstrations that have seen President Alassane Ouattara‘s supporters clashing with security forces. An 18 year-old reportedly died in a violent demonstration in the southeastern town of Bonoua, 50km from the economic hub, Abidjan.
Demonstrations by youth oppose Ouattara’s re-election campaign stating that his presidential bid is unconstitutional. Ivory Coast’s Constitution prohibits Outtara’s run for president, but he contests that this law was only approved in 2016 in the middle of his second presidential term and therefore is not applicable.
A week ago Al Jazeera released a video of President Alassane Ouattara’s public announcement that he would run for president in the country’s national elections in October. The announcement, made on Ivory Coast’s Independence day, was of great concern considering Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly had just died, reportedly of a heart attack. Ouattara had made no indication of running for presidential candidacy again before the death.
Protests in Ivory Coast after President Alassane Ouattara announced plans to seek a third term in office – 14 Augus… https://t.co/iWURgezUpr
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Ouattara was elected through a highly contested political coalition in 2010 and again in 2015 during heightened civil unrest. Disgruntled youth have been calling for a more representative government and Ouattara made promises in March this year, stating that “it is time to hand over to a new generation”.
Ivory Coast’s youth population is mostly under 19 years of age. Young people have increasingly voiced their frustration with the government and feared that 78-year-old Ouattara’s decision was a dangerous turn that would destabilise Ivory Coast’s progress.
Burning tyres and barricades currently fill the streets. Police attack youth with teargas and chase them away with guns.
In 2019, growing attacks against political opposition members and activists were recorded by Amnesty International, condemning Ouattara’s government for contravening universal rights of freedom of association and freedom of expression. The government announced a ban on protests earlier in the week in an effort to quiet demonstrations in forthcoming elections.
Ouattara claims that the global COVID-19 pandemic and the socioeconomic crisis it generated in the country has motivated his decision to run for a third term.