In 2010, when Ivory Coast’s current President, Alassane Ouattara, was meant to succeed his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, the state had been plunged into conflict because Gbagbo had refused to accept defeat.
President Alassane Ouattara had, therefore, fought a long hard battle before Laurent Gbagbo was arrested and charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with war crimes. President Ouattara then took his rightful place as President of Ivory Coast.
His battles to become Ivory Coast’s President had, however, begun long before the 2010 struggles. President Alassane Ouattara had previously been barred twice from running in presidential elections in Ivory Coast because he was regarded as a foreigner.
The electorate regarded him as a foreigner because his mother was from neighboring Burkina Faso and he could be barred, because, in the fine print of the constitution, both parents of a Presidential candidate had to have been Ivorian-born.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that as the 74-year-old President presented to the National Assembly a draft constitution, he proposed two key things regarding Presidential candidates, one of which was that only one parent of a candidate has to be born in Ivory Coast.
The other was that the age limit of 75 for presidential candidates should be removed. He urged lawmakers to support the amendments stating;
“This is the occasion to definitively turn the page on the successive crises our country has known, to write new pages in our history by proposing a new social pact.”
By that, he must have been making reference to the fact that previous conflicts in the country had been inspired by Nationality disputes which even led to a coup in 1999.
President Ouattara won a second term last year and is required to step down at the next election in 2020. The two main opposition parties in the country have rejected the proposed amendments, saying there was no need for a new constitution.
The National Assembly will have to vote on the proposed changes before voters then decide in a referendum, whether or not to approve them.