Ivory Coast to Scrap Disputed Rule for Presidential Hopefuls

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara seeks to scrap a disputed clause in the constitution that barred him from running for office and sparked a decade of strife between Ivorian citizens and children born to migrant workers.

The country’s new constitution will remove the condition that presidential contenders must have two parents of Ivorian origin, Ouattara told lawmakers Wednesday in the commercial capital, Abidjan. Instead, they are required to have only one parent of Ivorian origin.

The draft of the supreme law also creates a post for a vice president and the establishment of a senate, he said. The vice president will be elected at the same time as the president. Under the current constitution, the speaker of parliament takes over if the president is incapacitated.

The amendment “will strengthen social unity and guarantee peace and stability and equality between populations,” Ouattara said. Ivory Coast’s economy has attracted migrant workers for decades, with about a fifth of the population estimated to originate from neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea.

Failed Coup

Ouattara pledged during his re-election campaign last year to remove the so-called nationality clause, which was included in the constitution after a 2000 referendum and months before an election to bar him 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.

Two years after the referendum, rebels loyal to Ouattara tried to oust then-President Laurent Gbagbo, who emerged as winner of the 2000 vote. The failed coup led to a de facto partition of the country that continued for almost 10 years.

The draft constitution allows for a five-year presidential term, which may be renewed once, Ouattara said.

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