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Ivory Coast opposition meets to pick presidential candidate


Head of the "Front Populaire Ivoirien" (FPI), Pascal Affi N'guessan, delivers a speech during the FPI congress that will select the party's candidate for presidential elections, on May 21, 2015 in Abidjan (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou)

Head of the “Front Populaire Ivoirien” (FPI), Pascal Affi N’guessan, (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou)

Ivory Coast’s main opposition party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, held a massive gathering on Thursday to choose a candidate for presidential elections in October.

President Alassane Ouattara “must go”, FPI chief Pascal Affi N’Guessan told the crowd as he opened the party congress, calling for change.

“By change I mean democratic change, that is the defeat of Alassane Ouattara in October 2015 and the FPI’s return to power,” the head of the deeply divided party told thousands of supporters at the Abidjan sports palace.

The aim of the congress, which had yet to name a candidate by Thursday evening, was to “designate the one among us who will lead us to this goal”, he added.

Some in the FPI want N’Guessan himself to run.

But others in the party back ex-strongman Gbagbo for the presidency, even though he is currently awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara after elections in 2010 sparked a bloody five-month standoff in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.

Gbagbo, held in The Hague since his transfer to the ICC’s detention unit in late 2011,¬†will go on trial in November for his alleged role in the violence.


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