October 6, 2015 / 9:00 PM / 3 years ago

Ivory Coast opposition candidate suspends participation in presidential vote

Amara Essy, candidate for the 2015 presidential election and member of the ruling coalition of RHDP attends a news conference in Abidjan February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Former Ivory Coast foreign minister turned opposition candidate Amara Essy said on Tuesday he had suspended his participation in this month’s presidential election, saying the process was undemocratic and dominated by the incumbent.

President Alassane Ouattara is heavily favored to win re-election in the Oct. 25 ballot, meant to draw a line under a decade-long crisis that ended in a civil war that killed over 3,000 people after the last presidential vote in 2010.

Investors, drawn to an economic boom in the West African nation, also hope the poll will provide assurances of political stability.

Essy, a member of the National Coalition for Change (CNC) opposition bloc, stopped short of saying he would boycott the election, but said his participation was conditional upon certain demands being addressed by the government.

“I won’t risk, in front of history, allowing my candidacy to legitimize the incumbent president in a process that we have every proof is completely under his control,” Essy said in a statement.

Including Essy, 10 candidates were cleared by the constitutional court to take part in the vote. Ouattara has already secured the backing of his principal coalition partner, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI).

The CNC draws heavily on PDCI dissidents who rejected the deal, which was brokered by their party president Henri Konan Bedie.

They have called for direct dialogue with the government to discuss their grievances, which include security concerns and demands for the restructuring of the elections commission and more state media coverage of their candidates.

Amnesty International this week said opposition supporters had been subject to a wave of arbitrary arrests and abuse in the run-up to the election. The government rejected the accusations.

Reporting by Joe Bavier; editing by John Stonestreet

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