July 4, 2018 / 1:25 PM / 13 days ago

Ivory Coast's Ouattara dissolves government amid coalition infighting

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara dissolved the government on Wednesday, according to a statement from the presidency, amid tensions with his party’s partner in the governing coalition.

FILE PHOTO: Ivorian President, Alassane Ouattara, speaks during the opening ceremony of the Senate in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was re-appointed to form a new government. The rest of the government, including the key posts of finance and defense minister, remains vacant.

Ivorian politics is historically volatile, marked by conflicts over land and ethnicity. The country was divided for nearly a decade between a government-controlled south and rebel-held north. A dispute over Ouattara’s first election victory in 2010 led to a civil war that killed some 3,000 people.

Political tensions are rising again before a 2020 election. Constitutional term limits appear to prevent Ouattara from standing for a third term, but he said last month that he is free to run again under a new constitution approved in 2016.

Ouattara won a run-off in 2010 and re-election in 2015, thanks partly to the backing of former President Henri Konan Bedie’s PDCI party, whose members serve in the government.

But the two sides have fallen out over the PDCI’s insistence that Ouattara back a candidate of its choosing in 2020. The PDCI last month rejected the idea of a joint ticket, after Ouattara’s RDR party refused to allow the PDCI to choose the candidate.

Julien Kouao, an Ivorian political analyst, said Ouattara was trying to consolidate his position within his own RDR party as the RDR and PDCI move toward fielding separate candidates.

“Ouattara wants ... to have a strong political instrument to consolidate not only the peace obtained since 2011 but also to assure his political ambitions to run in 2020 or to field a candidate on his behalf,” Kouao told Reuters.

Reporting By Loucoumane Coulibaly; writing by Aaron Ross; editing by Larry King

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