ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara said Thursday that he will not run for re-election in October, ending speculation that he would try for a third term.
“I would like to solemnly announce that I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election on October 31, 2020 and to transfer power to a young generation,” he said before deputies and senators in the capital, Yamoussoukro. “It was an honor to serve my country.”
For some time, Ouattara had remained silent about his plans. Opponents said he didn’t have a constitutional right to a third term, but he had said that he would run if his longtime rival, former president Laurent Gbagbo, became a candidate.
When Ouattara was first elected in 2010, Gbagbo, who was president at that time, refused to acknowledge the win, leading to months of violence that claimed more than 3,000 lives.
Gbagbo was acquitted last year at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity for his role in the post-election violence. However, he remains in Europe pending an appeal by the prosecution. It is unclear if he would try to stand as a candidate, but Ivory Coast has seen a rise in political tensions ahead of the October 31 elections.