(Bloomberg) -- The main partner in Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s ruling coalition won’t go ahead with a proposal to unify their parties before presidential elections in two years and plans to field its own candidate.
The announcement is a setback for Ouattara and plans to consolidate the grip on power of the ruling coalition in the world’s biggest cocoa producer. While unification would force the six parties in the Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace coalition to agree on a single candidate, they’ve been divided over who should succeed Ouattara in 2020, when he’s due to step down after two terms in office.
The Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast announced its decision to reject unification with Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans after party officials met Sunday in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
“Our leaders listened to the base and made the decision that the PDCI will be an independent party with their own candidate in 2020 elections,” said Regis Aka of the PDCI’s political bureau. “The decision was unanimous.”
Earlier this month, Ouattara, 76, said a new constitution adopted in 2016 allows him to run again, stirring concern among his coalition partners. PDCI leader Henri Konan Bedie, 84, has insisted his party must nominate the coalition candidate for the next vote in return for his support for Ouattara in 2010 and 2015 polls.
Bedie served as president for six years until he was deposed in a bloodless 1999 coup, and still wields huge political influence. The PDCI ruled the West African nation for almost four decades.
“It’s time for a PDCI candidate,” said another member of the political bureau, Fana Konate.
The PDCI postponed its next congress from later this year until after the 2020 election. It also extended Bedie’s mandate until the next party congress.
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