President Ouattara Plans to Change Ivory Coast Constitution

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara plans to modify the Ivory Coast constitution by removing the nationality clause which states presidential candidates must have never claimed a second citizenship and must have parents that were born Ivorians, according to a statement released by the presidential office on Tuesday.

Ivory Coast Constitution Ouattara President Alassane Ouattara attends a news conference at the presidential palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara attends a news conference at the presidential palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

via Reuters

A ten member expert panel of law experts and professors will begin to draft what may be the country’s new constitution if approved by public referendum, says Ouattara’s office.

People argue that changing the nationality clause will help to continue fostering good relations between the North and South who were on and off war for almost a decade.

For many years, northern regions of the country have  become home to families originating from neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. Many argue that the nationality clause perpetuates exclusion in a country that only recently ended a civil war. Ethnic tensions between a majority Muslim north and majority Christina south arguably contributed to what resulted in civl war in 2002.

Barred from seeking the presidency over what opponents said were his foreign origins, Ouattara’s ongoing bid for presidency was only realised when he won the election in 2010. An election some argue was truly won by former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo (who is currently on trial at the International Criminal Court) which lead to a second civil conflict that killed more than 3,000 people.

Ouattara will hold consultations with opposition figures, traditional chiefs, religious leaders and members of civil society groups to establish a modified constitution, according to the statement.

If he succeeds in removing the nationality clause, Ouattara would have kept one of his campaign promises, a rare thing from most presidents. How will the Ivorian people respond to the proposed draft, only time will tell.

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