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Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara in Paris, Jan. 27, 2012 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

Political Jockeying Puts Cote d’Ivoire’s Reconciliation in Jeopardy

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Earlier this month, Cote d’Ivoire’s opposition parties rejected Youssouf Bakayoko’s re-election as the head of the country’s election commission. Bakayoko, a member of President Alassane Ouattara’s ruling coalition, has served as head of the commission since it was set up in 2010. The rejection was a reminder of both the fractious nature of Ivorian politics and the deep ambivalence within the opposition Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) about reaching agreement with the Ouattara administration.

Reform of the electoral commission, which parliament approved in May 2014, was meant to be a further step in political reconciliation and normalization, but the new makeup provides a majority of seats on the commission for the ruling parties. The dispute over Bakayoko’s re-election also reflects an ongoing power struggle within the FPI between the party’s president, Pascal Affi Nguessan, who favors re-engagement in mainstream Ivoirian politics, and hardline supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo, who still want to boycott the upcoming 2015 elections. The FPI has signaled that it is seeking new concessions from the government. A party congress at the end of the year will need to agree on the FPI’s new leadership and whether it will compete in the 2015 elections. If not resolved, those issues could result in a splitting of the party. ...

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