February 28, 2015 / 6:53 PM / 3 years ago

Ivory Coast ruling coalition partner backs Ouattara re-election bid

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s main coalition partner on Saturday formally endorsed a deal to support the incumbent’s bid for re-election in polls later this year.

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (centre L) waves as he holds the African Nations Cup trophy with Ivory Coast's soccer team captain Yaya Toure, at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

The support of former president Henri Konan Bedie’s Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) eases Ouattara’s path to a second five-year term in office, but the arrangement has angered prominent figures in the party.

Of nearly 4,000 PDCI party militants who voted at a party congress on the motion not to field a candidate and instead back the president in polls expected in October, only six voted against it.

Congress attendees sang party songs glorifying Bedie, who was toppled in a 1999 coup that marked the beginning of a decade of political instability in French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy.

Some wore t-shirts with the words “I am a Yes” or carried banners with slogans including “For peace, no sacrifice is too great.”

After finishing third in the first round of the last election in 2010, Bedie’s support in a run-off swept Ouattara to power. In exchange for its support, the PDCI gained the post of prime minister, along with several other key government portfolios.

Then-president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in the election, however, and plunged the world’s top cocoa grower into a brief civil war in early 2011 that killed some 3,000 people.

In September, Bedie announced that the PDCI would support Ouattara’s election bid and in exchange the president’s Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party would back a PDCI candidate in 2020.

“On this point, I trust President Alassane Ouattara’s word and that of the RDR,” Bedie told party supporters.

Ouattara is limited to two terms in office by Ivory Coast’s constitution.

Several senior figures in the PDCI, including former prime minister Charles Konan Banny, on Thursday rejected the deal and threatened to ignore the congress’ decision and challenge Ouattara in the polls. They and their supporters boycotted the congress.

Ouattara, a former senior International Monetary Fund official, has won praise for reviving Ivory Coast’s economy following a decade-long crisis. In a sign of renewed confidence, investors placed nearly $4 billion in orders for a $1 billion Eurobond which Ivory Coast marketed on Tuesday.

Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Stephen Powell

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