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Côte d'Ivoire

Gbagbo's and Bédié's parties join forces against Ouattara in parliamentary vote

The elections could lay the ground for the political comeback of the ousted president, Laurent Gbagbo

Four months after the presidential elections – marred by post-election violence in which scores died – at which President Alassane Ouattara claimed a third term, the opposition alliance which boycotted the presidential polls aims for major gains in Saturday's (6 March) parliamentary elections (AC Vol 61 No 24, Echoes of the dark days).

The polls are the first in a decade which all major opposition forces will contest.

Former president Laurent Gbagbo is expected to return to Côte d'Ivoire later this month after 10 years in exile, as one of the concessions offered by President Ouattara, and his Front populaire ivoirien (FPI) coalition has allied with Henri Konan Bédié's Parti démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI) to contest the polls.

Since losing the 2010 presidential elections to President Ouattara, Gbagbo also faced charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, of which he was acquitted in 2019.

The elections 'mark the return of Laurent Gbagbo and his political organisation in institutional politics,' said Gbagbo's eldest son, Michel, who is contesting a constituency in Abidjan.

For Ouattara's Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix (RHDP), meanwhile, the elections are an opportunity for positioning with a view to the presidential succession at the 2025 elections.

Last year's post-election violence is likely to depress turnout, say analysts, which could be even lower than the 54% recorded last October (AC Vol 61 No 22, Ouattara sweeps half the board).

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