Ouattara's game plan.

Author:Michaud, Paul
Position::Brief Article

Cote d'Ivoire goes to the polls again on Sunday, 10 December, this time to elect a new National Assembly. But if anybody's political future hinges so much on the elections, it is Alassane Outtara who was disqualified from running in the presidential election won by Laurent Gbagbo on 22 October.

Ouattara's Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR) is expected to do very well, especially in his stronghold in the north.

Ouatrara's main interest is to be president. After Gbagbo's victory, it was Ouattara who led the chorus, supported by America, to re-run the presidential polls. When Gbagbo refused, Quattara turned down his invitation to join a government of national unity, with Gbagbo as president, although all the other parties, including the PDCI whose presidential candidate was also disqualified, took up Gbagbo's invitation.

Ouattara let it be known that, as far as he was concerned, it was the 10 December parliamentary elections that would determine his future plans.

If past elections are any guide, Ouattara could well win control of the National Assembly and then use his majority to call for new presidential elections, or even amend the constitution to make the re-running of the presidential polls possible.

Already one of his principal supporters-America -- has signalled its support for such a move. In effect, Gbagbo has more to lose from the parliamentary elections than any politician in the country.

Whereas the disgraced General Guei was associated with key personalities in the French military hierarchy close to the current Gaullist president, Jacques Chirac, Gbagbo is said to lave strong ties with the French Socialist Party of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the party that had nurtured him for years in Paris.

As if to show the French that he intended in no way to attribute his victory to any support they might have given him, one of the first decisions taken by Gbagbo after his swearing in, was to let the French know via his newly appointed defence minister, Moise Lida Kouassi, that high on the agenda of the forthcoming talks between Cote d'Ivoire and France would be the redefinition of the two countries' defence relationship.

Although Cote d'Ivoire won independence from France on 7 August 1960, the military cooperation between the two countries is still based on a 1962 "Defence Treaty", parts of which are still secret,...

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