Ivory Coast’s 86-year-old former president Henri Konan Bedie said he’d be vying for presidency again. On Sunday he pointed that “age is an asset” ahead of being declared his opposition party’s candidate for October’s tense presidential election.
The election has been tipped into uncertainty, by the sudden death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly earlier this month.
Coulibaly was a popular figure, seen as the anointed successor of President Alassane Ouattara, who had ruled out standing for re-election on October 31. But Coulibaly’s death has stirred speculation that Ouattara could run after all.
Bedie, served as president from 1993 until he was ousted in a coup in 1999. He is hoping to fill the power vacuum as the leader of the Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast (PDCI), which held a convention in Abidjan on Sunday to select it’s candidate.
Around 9,000 delegates will vote at 388 polling stations across the country in the party’s primary, but the result is not in doubt — Bedie is the only contestant. The result is expected to be announced at noon on Monday.
Bedie added, “Age brings together experience as well as competence.”
Opponents of Bedie, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2000 and 2010, have criticised his advanced age.
Bedie’s previous stand came at a time when Ivory Coast was a haven of peace and stability in restive West Africa, before the coup that removed him from power, a low-lying civil war, and the bloody political unrest that followed.
Bedie said he hoped to “fulfil a mission of public safety to rest.”