The party of Cote d’Ivoire’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, who was acquitted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court last year, on Wednesday called for him to run for president in the October elections.
It was not yet clear if Gbagbo, who resides in Belgium, will accept the FPI party’s recommendation and return to the country.
But a candidacy of Gbagbo, who refused to step down from office after a disputed 2010 election, sparking a civil war that killed about 3,000 people, would be a twist in a tense build-up to polls that many fear could spark more violence.
The October 31 election is seen as a key test of Cote d’Ivoire’s stability and its ability to shake off a turbulent past. But an old guard of politicians remains in the race in the world’s top cocoa producer.
Octogenarian former President Henri Konan Bedie last month said he will be running.
Current President Alassane Ouattara, who had said he would run in October if Bedie and Gbagbo did, announced in March that he would not seek re-election. His opponents say running again would violate constitutional limits.
Still, his RHDP party said Monday that it had asked Ouattara to stand again after his hand-picked successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died suddenly, leaving the ruling RHDP party scrambling to choose a replacement.
Marcel Amon-Tanoh, a longtime ally of Ouattara and until recently his foreign minister, declared on Wednesday he would run in the elections, breaking with the ruling party.
Amon-Tanoh resigned in March as foreign minister after Ouattara announced that Gon Coulibaly would be the RHDP’s candidate. Amon-Tanoh had been widely seen as angling to be the candidate.
‘We have built bridges, but we have forgotten to construct bridges between men,’ he said in a speech announcing his candidacy, an implicit rebuke to Ouattara’s record on reconciling Ivorians after the civil war.
Sources close to Amon-Tanoh said he would create his own political party in the coming days.