Ivory Coast government faces collapse in coalition row

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara speaks during the first cabinet meeting at the presidential palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s government faced collapse on Friday after his junior coalition partner said it had expelled party members named to a new cabinet.

Ouattara reshuffled his cabinet last week because of a row between his RDR party and the PDCI party of former President Henri Konan Bedie.

The changes were largely cosmetic, and Ouattara played down friction between the two parties in a public address last week. But they went against the wishes of Bedie, who had warned party members in a letter seen by Reuters not to take part in the new government.

“I ask all PDCI party members to not associate with this event, or participate,” Bedie said in the letter dated July 13, referring to a meeting of the new government.

PDCI spokesman Narcisse N’Dri told Reuters that about 10 party members named as ministers had been expelled.

The PDCI move appeared to mark a break from Ouattara and possibly the end to a political marriage that was critical to his run-off victory in the 2010 presidential election and his re-election in 2015.

The two parties had fallen out over the PDCI’s insistence that it be able to choose the candidate for a joint ticket in the 2020 presidential vote.

The row has aggravated the perennially volatile politics of Ivory Coast, where a tenuous stability has held since a brief civil war in 2010-11 that killed 3,000 people.

Reporting By Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Edward McAllister; editing by David Stamp