Ivory Coast’s Democracy at a Crossroads: The Controversy of Ouattara’s Potential Fourth Term

Jul 10, 2024 | News, Politics | 0 comments

The recent mobilisation by Ivory Coast’s ruling party, the Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), to drum up support for President Alassane Ouattara’s potential fourth-term bid is a deeply concerning development for the nation’s democratic future. This manoeuvre, shrouded in constitutional sophistry, threatens to undermine the very foundations of Ivorian democracy and perpetuate a cycle of political instability that has long plagued the country.

Ouattara’s tenure, which began in 2011, has indeed brought a measure of economic growth to Ivory Coast. However, the argument that the 2016 constitution “wiped his slate clean” is a dangerous precedent that flies in the face of the spirit of term limits. Such logic, if accepted, could pave the way for indefinite rule, a hallmark of the authoritarian governance that has stunted political development across much of Africa.

The RHDP’s recent events, including a ceremony showcasing cocoa farmers’ support for Ouattara, smack of political theatre designed to create an illusion of popular demand for his continued leadership. This tactic, often employed by long-serving leaders across the continent, seeks to conflate economic progress with the indispensability of a single individual.

It’s crucial to recognise that true democracy thrives on the peaceful transfer of power and the nurturing of new leadership. Ouattara’s reluctance to step aside not only stifles the emergence of fresh voices within Ivorian politics but also sends a troubling message about the state of democratic institutions in the country.

While Western powers may turn a blind eye to such democratic backsliding in the interest of regional stability, we as Africans must demand better. The people of Ivory Coast deserve a robust democracy where power is transferred peacefully and regularly, not one where constitutional gymnastics are employed to extend the rule of incumbents.

As the 2024 elections approach, it is imperative that Ivorians, both at home and in the diaspora, remain vigilant and vocal in their defence of democratic principles. The future of Ivory Coast’s democracy hangs in the balance, and the choices made now will reverberate for generations to come.