DAKAR (Reuters) - President Alassane Ouattara will face three challengers when he seeks re-election on Saturday after a decade in power. But his main rivals, former president Henri Konan Bedie and former prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, have urged their supporters to boycott the poll and prevent it from happening.
The 78-year old former executive of the International Monetary Fund has said he is running against his will. He announced in March that he will not seek another mandate. However, he revised his position five months later following the sudden death of his handpicked successor.
“I had planned my life after the presidency. This is a real sacrifice for me,” Ouattara said in August, announcing his decision to run for a third term, adding that it was due to a ‘force majeure’.
Seen as the favourite to win, Ouattara’s instincts have been honed by three decades in the messy fray of Ivorian politics.
HENRI KONAN BEDIE
At 86 years of age, Bedie, Ivory Coast’s president from 1993-1999, was counted out by some, who expected his PDCI (Democratic Party of Ivory Coast) to name a younger presidential candidate this year.
But he won the PDCI’s nomination with more than 99% support from party delegates.
His strength in the general election remains to be seen. The PDCI, the party of Ivory Coast’s founding president Felix Houphouet-Boigny, has been locked out of power since the 1999 military coup that overthrew Bedie. He and Pascal Affi N’Guessan called for a boycott of the election at a joint news conference in Abidjan on Oct. 15.
KUOADIO KONAN BERTIN
Known by his initials ‘KKB’, Bertin is a former PDCI loyalist who is splitting with the party and his former mentor Bedie, for the second time, to run as an independent candidate.
At 51, he is the youngest of the four candidates. He split with the party when Bedie decided not to present a PDCI candidate for the 2015 presidential election. He ran as an independent coming third behind Ouattara and Affi.
KKB returned to the PDCI party in 2017, hoping that the old guard, including Bedie, would step aside and allow the younger generation to lead party in 2020. He left when his candidature to lead the party was rejected.
He has refused to join Bedie and Affi in calling for a boycott saying voters in Ivory Coast want an alternative to Ouattara.
PASCAL AFFI N’GUESSAN
A former prime minister under President Laurent Gbagbo from 2000 - 2003.
Following the disputed 2010 election and the brief civil war, Affi was arrested alongside other leaders of the party and placed under house arrest until his release in 2013.
His decision to be Ivorian Popular Front’s (FPI) flag bearer in the 2015 presidential election angered hard-liners and Gbagbo’s supporters within the party, and led to a split.
Affi came second behind Ouattara in the 2015 election with 9.2% of the vote.
Reporting by Bate Felix and Aaron Ross, Editing by Alexandra Hudson
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