Ivory Coast opposition angry after candidates barred from presidential vote

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Opposition figures reacted angrily on Tuesday after Ivory Coast's top court rejected 40 candidates for upcoming presidential elections, validating the contested bid of head of state Alassane Ouattara but sidelining his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo.

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Tensions in the West African state are running high ahead of the October 31 polls — more than 3,000 people died in post-election violence in 2010-11.

One of the four accepted candidates, former prime minister Pascal Affi Nguessan, said the country was "descending into a spiral of exclusion", a phenomenon he described as "the most consummate sign of the regime's tyrannical nature."

Nguessan, 67, served under Gbagbo and heads the party he founded, although he is struggling to win over loyalists who want the former president to be their flagbearer.

Gbagbo was forced out by Ouattara after a brief civil war following the elections in 2010 and was then prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity.

He was released by the ICC in January 2019 and lives in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against the ruling.

But Gbagbo's application for the October 31 elections — submitted in his name by followers — was rejected by the Constitutional Council as he had been sentenced to a 20-year term in absentia last November over the looting of a regional bank during the post-election crisis.

Another notable rejection was an application by former rebel leader turned prime minister Guillaume Soro, 47, who fell out with Ouattara, and had been sentenced to 20-years in absentia over alleged embezzlement.

"The Constitutional Council missed a historic chance to show its independence," Nguessan said in a statement.

He referred to a constitutional change in 2016 that enabled Ouattara to argue that the two-term limit on presidential tenure had been reset to zero — a rationale accepted by the court.

"It accepted the candidacy of the outgoing president, who is clearly ineligible, and refused those of Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro, who have been deprived of their civic rights out of purely political opportunism," Nguessan said.

Violence fears

Ouattara, 78, had initially said in March that he would not seek a third term but was forced into a U-turn just four months later when his preferred successor, prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Read More – Source

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