Ivory Coast opposition calls for protests to stop Ouattara's third term bid

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s main presidential election challenger and a group of opposition parties called on Sunday for a civil disobedience campaign to stop President Alassane Ouattara’s bid for a third term on Oct 31.

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The election is seen as one of the biggest tests of the stability of the West African nation since a disputed election led to a brief civil war in 2010-11.

Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council has cleared Ouattara, former president Henri Konan Bedie and two other candidates to contest in the vote.

Bedie told a packed opposition PDCI party hall in Abidjan that the parties, after a meeting on Sunday, had come together to stop Ouattara’s third term bid.

“It is left to us, in light of everything that has been said here, to protect the stability of the nation,” Bedie said, adding that in the face of Ouattara’s persistence, there was only one slogan left, “civil disobedience”.

At least a dozen people have been killed since anti-Ouattara riots broke out last month after he declared he would run following the sudden death of his handpicked successor in July.

The opposition has said that Ouattara, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2015, is violating the constitution by seeking a third term. The 78-year old president says a constitutional change means his two-term limit has been reset.

The outbreak of violence sparked memories of 2010-11, when 3,000 people died in the civil war in the country – the world’s top producer of cocoa.

Several opposition party leaders took to the floor and backed the idea of trying to stop Ouattara running again, calling for demonstrations to be held across the country.

“The political parties are demanding the withdrawal of Alassane Ouattara’s candidacy, the dissolution of the Constitutional Council, and the dissolution of the Electoral Commission, because of its subservience to the ruling RHDP party,” said Saraka Patrice, an opposition party leader.

A spokesman for the Ivory Coast government was not immediately available for comment.

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