Ivory Coast‘s top court on Monday cleared the path for President Alassane Ouattara to seek a contentious third term, as protests turned violent in several cities and fears grew of a repeat of the conflict that claimed 3,000 lives in the West African country a decade ago.
The constitutional council also barred former President Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader-turned-Prime Minister Guillaume Soro from standing in next month’s presidential election.
It cleared only four of the 44 candidates for the October 31 presidential election. The other candidates cleared were former president Henri Konan Bedie from the historically dominant PDCI party, Gbagbo’s former prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and Kouadio Konan Bertin, a dissident from Bedie’s party.
In the economic capital Abidjan, protesters torched a bus in the working-class district of Yopougon after scuffles broke out earlier in the day between security forces and youths.
The district is thought to be a fiefdom of exiled former president Gbagbo, whose supporters had filed an application for him to run in the vote. It was Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara after the 2010 election that sparked the bloody conflict in the former French colony, formerly a beacon of stability and prosperity in the region.
In the centre-west city of Bangolo, demonstrators set fire to a mining truck and other vehicles on Monday, according to a resident, who added that gendarmes dispersed them with tear gas.
Witnesses said security forces took down barricades set up by protesters on several roads in the west of the country.
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