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On 13 July, a presidential spokesperson announced that President Alassane Ouattara had accepted the resignation of Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan on 8 July, the same day that Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly had died. While the timing might be coincidental, Duncan’s resignation removes a potential contender as the ruling party has to figure out who should succeed Coulibaly as flagbearer for the 31 October presidential election. However, Duncan’s exit is a major setback for Ouattara as his actions proved key to splinter the main opposition party. Even though certain factions are again pushing for Ouattara to seek a controversial third term, Defense Minister Hamed Bakayoko remains the more likely option.
According to the official statement, Duncan (77) had asked Ouattara for permission to resign for “personal reasons” already on 27 February, i.e. before Ouattara had officially presented Coulibaly as his successor in March. In 2019, Duncan – who had previously served as Ouattara’s prime minister (2012-2017) – had still been rumored to become the presidential candidate of the ruling Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP). He had been a vice president of Henri Konan Bedie’s Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) but stood loyal to Ouattara when Bedie pulled his party out of the coalition government in 2018. Duncan even set up a new party wing, the PDCI-Renaissance, to lure more PDCI supporters into Ouattara’s RHDP, which was established as a merger of most parties in the ruling coalition.
Being an identification figure in government for PDCI converts, Duncan’s resignation represents the next major setback for Ouattara and also eliminates a potential successor for the late Coulibaly as the party’s presidential candidate. Already, certain RHDP cadres, most notably the party’s executive secretary, Adama Bictogo, publicly exhort Ouattara to seek a third term. While such calls are likely motivated by opposition to Bakayoko – who remains more popular among the party’s rank and file members than its establishment – as previously discussed, putting himself forward would come with a host of problems for Ouattara. As such, the current defense minister remains the more likely choice, and his chances might have further improved over Duncan’s exit.