Ivory Coast to Review Supreme Law Changes Ahead of Referendum

  • Ivorians may vote on new constitution as early as next month
  • Changes include creation of post of vice president, senate

A draft of Ivory Coast’s new constitution, whose changes may include the amendment of a nationality clause that was at the heart of years of political strife, will be reviewed by the government and lawmakers ahead of a referendum scheduled for as early as next month.

A panel in charge of making revisions to the supreme law of the world’s largest cocoa producer handed a draft to President Alassane Ouattara on Saturday, his office said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. The text will be reviewed by the government during a weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday and by the National Assembly’s lawmakers on Oct. 5, Ouattara said in an e-mailed copy of a speech delivered Sept. 24 in the commercial capital, Abidjan.

If approved by parliament, the text will be put to Ivorians through a referendum, which may take place before the end of October, Ouattara’s spokeswoman, Massere Toure, said by phone on Monday.

Ouattara pledged during his re-election campaign last year to remove the nationality clause, which stipulates that presidential candidates must have two Ivory Coast-born parents. The clause, included in the constitution after a disputed 2000 referendum and months before elections, barred Ouattara, a former prime minister, from standing. Ouattara’s father was said to be from neighboring Burkina Faso, and his attempts to prove his parents’ origin were thrown out by a court.

The amendments include the creation of a post of vice-president and the establishment of a senate, of which two-thirds of the members will be elected and the remaining appointed by the President, state-owned Fraternite Matin newspaper reported on Monday, citing Ouraga Obou, the head of the panel.

The changes will strengthen the justice system and allow for a smooth succession once Ouattara’s term ends in 2020, the president said in New York last week.

“Our country needs a constitution which is modern, consensual, impersonal and that will stand the test of time,” Ouattara said.

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