Ivory Coast President's Ruling Ally Pulls Out From Coalition

(Bloomberg) -- The main partner of Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara ruling coalition said it is withdrawing from the group, marking the culmination of growing tensions between political blocs as the country prepares to hold presidential elections in 2020.

Former President Henri Konan Bedie’s Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast is opting out of Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace and “reserves the right to promote a platform of collaboration” with other parties, the group said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

The PDCI, as Bedie’s party is known, and three smaller groups backed Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans under the banner of the RHDP to contest presidential elections in 2010 and 2015. The PDCI agreed to support Ouattara as president for the two terms in exchange for its nomination of a candidate for the 2020 vote. In May, Ouattara said a new constitution adopted in 2016 allows him to run again and led talks for the creation of a unified party, which was agreed to last month without the backing of the PDCI.

Questioning Motives

The PDCI “is questioning the real motives for the rush with which the unified RHDP party was launched,” it said. This and other irregularities have “tainted” the formation of the unified party, it said.

The PDCI will field its own candidates in local and regional elections scheduled for October, according to the statement.

Bedie, 84, served as president for six years in the world’s biggest cocoa producer 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.

Ouattara or another candidate from the RHDP will face a difficult race to win the 2020 election without the backing of the PDCI, said Ousmane Zina, a political analyst at the University of Bouake.

“The PDCI wants to believe in its chances of being in power in 2020,” Zina said by text message. “The Ivorian political field is open until 2020.”

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