Ivory Coast’s FPI Party Names N’Guessan Presidential Candidate

Ivory Coast’s Front Populaire Ivorien will field ex-Prime Minister Pascale Affi N’Guessan as its presidential candidate as party founder Laurent Gbagbo tries to return to the country he once ruled.

N’Guessan, 67, will contest the much-anticipated Oct. 31 vote against the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast’s Henri Konan Bedie, an 86-year-old former president, and possibly incumbent Alassane Ouattara, 78. Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace party is urging him to seek a third term after the sudden death of his chosen successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, on July 8 threw the ruling party into disarray, but he hasn’t announced a decision.

“I’m a winning candidate and we will win,” N’Guessan told delegates at a party convention in the economic capital, Abidjan, according to a copy of the speech he delivered after his nomination on Saturday.

The FPI held its party convention as Gbagbo, who was acquitted of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in January last year, reported progress in his efforts to return home. He applied for an ordinary passport at the Ivorian Embassy in Brussels and his lawyer Habiba Toure said on Friday that a government spokesperson indicated that his “application would be processed.”

While welcoming that development, Gbagbo was surprised to learn his name had been removed from the voters role, she said. Many of his supporters have called on him to run.

The world’s top cocoa grower is headed to its most tense election since Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara in 2010. That led to five months of post-electoral violence in which at least 3,000 people were left missing or dead.

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