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French President Emmanuel Macron will meet in Paris on Friday with his Ivory Coast counterpart Alassane Ouattara, whose surprise decision last month to seek a third term has thrown his country into turmoil.
France had welcomed the “historic decision” last March by Ouattara, 78, not to run for re-election, hoping the move would encourage other longstanding African leaders to embrace more democratic regimes.
But the death of his prime minister, who many say was poised to succeed him, prompted a reversal that has sparked weeks of deadly clashes between supporters of rival parties.
Macron has not commented publicly on Ouattara’s move, but a source in the French presidency said Thursday that his hope for a generational change in Ivory Coast remains firm.
On Monday, supporters of the country’s former president Laurent Gbagbo as well as Ouattara’s former ally Guillaume Soro both filed their candidacies in what will likely be tense elections next month.
The move came even though both Gbagbo and Soro had been barred by the electoral commission from running due to convictions in the country’s courts.
The crisis has revived fears of the fierce post-election violence that saw some 3,000 people killed ten years ago, when Gbagbo refused to recognise Ouattara’s election victory.