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June 22, 2020

COTE D’IVOIRE: Bedie’s candidacy would play into Ouattara’s hands

BY Malte Liewerscheidt

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( 2 mins)

On 20 June, Henri-Konan Bedie (86) officially declared his intention to become the presidential candidate of his Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) for the 31 October election. Barring any major surprises, he will be officially confirmed as the party’s flagbearer during an official nomination congress on 26 July. However, as previously analyzed, Bedie’s candidacy would likely reinforce an exodus from disgruntled PDCI members into the camp of the ruling Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) and jeopardize an opposition alliance in the making.

Bedie’s decision was widely expected, particularly after the PDCI’s political bureau had tightened the eligibility criteria earlier this month, effectively eliminating some of Bedie’s most promising internal would-be opponents. Bedie’s declaration on Saturday was carefully choreographed to suggest the aged party leader reluctantly gave in to passionate calls from the party’s youth to accept the nomination. Shortly before, his political godson Jean-Louis Billon officially dismissed rumors of his own candidacy and instead joined the chorus of those begging Bedie to run.

However, the devotion shown by a selected party audience on stage is unlikely to paper over the widening cracks in the party apparatus. Unless Bedie stretches across the divide and presents a youthful team as part of his campaign, many party members are likely to be disappointed by Bedie’s candidacy and might either follow the upcoming vote with apathy or switch sides to the ruling party. Furthermore, Bedie putting ego above party also endangers the opposition’s chances of winning on a strategic level. In fact, despite the rapprochement between the PDCI and former president Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), it would be a huge ask for Gbagbo to throw his support behind his former arch-foe Bedie in a potential run-off vote.

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