Sporadic violence flared in Ivory Coast on Saturday after President Alassane Ouattara was chosen by his ruling party to run for a third term in an October election, despite furious opposition charges the move is unconstitutional.
Ouattara, in power since 2010, said in March he would not stand again but changed his mind after the death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly — seen as his anointed successor — of a heart attack in July.
After his nomination, Ouattara vowed to score a first-round knockout victory before tens of thousands of supporters at an Abidjan rally held after the nomination.
“Going back on my decision was not easy,” said Ouattara, who insisted: “There is nothing preventing me from standing.”
“I did not have the right to place my personal project above the urgent situation in which the country finds itself,” he said.
But his party’s decision provoked outrage among young opposition supporters who took to the streets to voice loud and violent protest in several major cities.
The constitution limits presidents to two terms, but 78-year-old Ouattara and his supporters argue that a 2016 constitutional tweak reset the clock, allowing him to seek a third.