Ivory Coast Leader to Seek Third Term If Aging Rivals Run

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he’ll seek a third term in next year’s presidential election if “certain people from his own generation” decide to run.

“I want my generation to understand our time is up, and we should all step aside. But if they decide to run, I’ll run too,” Ouattara told a rally in the northern city of Katiola Saturday.

The world’s top cocoa producer is heading for a tense election after Ouattara’s ruling party, Ouattara’s Rally of Houphetists for Democracy and Peace, split from its biggest coalition partner — Bedie’s PDCI, arguing over who should be its candidate in 2020.

Ouattara, 77, has said he’s keen to hand over power. Still, he fears that his preferred successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, could be defeated by an alliance between former rebel leader Guillaume Soro and ex-president Henri Konan Bedie, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News in October.

Ouattara initially said he’d step down after serving two terms, but floated the idea of seeking re-election, something he says is legally possible because of a constitutional change made in 2016.

His rise to the presidency in 2011 ended years of division and conflict. The Ivy League-educated leader has overseen one of Africa’s highest economic growth rates, achieving more than 7% expansion every year since 2012. An election defeat for the ruling party could put that stability at risk.

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