One dead, several arrested following protests against Ivory Coast president’s third term bid

Ivory Coast protests1
Policemen detain a demonstrator during a protest against president Alassane Ouattara’s decision to stand for a third term, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

At least one protester was killed in Ivory Coast on Thursday, a ruling party official and security sources said, as small groups burned makeshift road blocks in protests against President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to stand for a third term.

The West African nation has seen a number of scattered protests since Ouattara announced last week he would run in the October 31 election, with the opposition accusing him of violating term limits.

Protesters in the southeastern town of Bonoua set fire to a police station after a young man died during a protest there on Thursday, two security sources said.

The circumstances of the death could not be confirmed and there was no immediate comment from police.

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The executive director of Ouattara’s party, Adama Bictogo, confirmed at a news conference that there had been deaths during the protest in Banoua and the day before in the central town of Daoukro.

He provided no further details but defended Ouattara’s decision to run again, saying: “For us the debate is closed.”

Ouattara’s opponents have accused the police of using excess force to break up demonstrations this week.

Ivory Coast law limits presidential terms to two, but Ouattara says a new constitution adopted in 2016 acted as a reset button, allowing him to run again. The October election is seen as a key test of stability for a country still recovering from a brief civil war in 2010 and 2011.

One of Ouattara’s main challengers, former President Henri Konan Bedie, said on Wednesday that two protesters had been killed and others severely wounded during demonstrations held that day in his electoral stronghold Daoukro and elsewhere.

“A wave of blind repression and brutal attacks is hitting young Ivorian democrats,” Bedie said in a statement.

In the commercial capital, Abidjan, police in riot gear cleared makeshift road blocks that small groups of protesters had built and set alight on Thursday, according to a witness. Several people were arrested, an opposition spokesman said.

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