AFRICA/CÔTE D'IVOIRE - President holds out hand to main Opposition leader: turning point in the crisis but not over yet

Thursday, 28 April 2005

Abidjan (Fides Service)- “This is another important step towards solving the crisis” said Fides sources with regard to the decision of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to allow main Opposition leader Alessandre Ouattara to stand for presidential elections in October. Speaking to the nation on television on 26 April the President said he had taken note of the peace agreement sign on 6 April in Pretoria (South Africa) by all the parties in the Ivorian crisis and that he was taking a decision in keeping with article 48 of the constitution allowing the head of state to assume exceptional powers and decide on candidatures. During presidential elections in 2000 the candidature of Ouattara, a Muslim from the north was rejected because his parents were not both Ivorian .
“President Gbagbo’s decision was not easy as we saw from the expression on his face when he spoke to the nation” the sources told Fides. “The head of state has said Ouattara may run for president but at the same time he accused him of starting the civil war”.
“However Gbagbo’s address was welcomed by the people also those living in rebel controlled areas” said Fides sources. “A new element of conflict between the President and Opposition could be decision taken by the former to ask the National Institute of Statistics to prepare identity papers necessary for the vote. Being a government structure, people fear the Opposition may accuse the government of manipulating the elections” the sources told Fides. “However the crisis seems to have taken way to its solution although it is not over yet”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/4/2005 righe 27 parole 320)