In Côte d'Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara's party is more omnipotent than ever

Re-elected in 2020 for a controversial third term, President Alassane Ouattara, in power for twelve years in Côte d'Ivoire, seems to have never been stronger

In Côte d'Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara's party is more omnipotent than ever

Re-elected in 2020 for a controversial third term, President Alassane Ouattara, in power for twelve years in Côte d'Ivoire, seems to have never been stronger. As local elections loom – to be held in September or October – the ruling party is becoming more and more attractive.

Since December, the Ivorian press has been making a big splash out of political transhumance. Deputy of Toumodi, mayor of Guibéroua, senator of Abidjan… up to Narcisse N'Dri, ex-director of cabinet of former president Henri Konan Bédié: the rallies to the Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) multiply. Even Charles Blé Goudé, former youth minister of Laurent Gbagbo, with whom he was detained at the International Criminal Court (ICC), makes no secret of his good relations with Adama Bictogo, the president of the National Assembly, a caciques of the Ouattara regime.

How to explain this attractiveness of the presidential party? The internal quarrels in the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI, of Henri Konan Bédié) may have played a role, but not only. Listening to the speeches of the neo-RHDP, we guess that some rallies were not made with lightheartedness.

"There is no point in saying that you came to help people [if] you don't have the necessary means," said Zézé Souassou Nicole Gohourou, the mayor of Guibéroua, at the time of her conversion. emphasizing "the great thirst for development" of its constituents: "When you are elected mayor and you are in business, you are in a logic of improving the living conditions of the populations. From there to saying that the prosperity of the municipality is directly correlated to the partisan allegiances of its elected official, there is only one step, which others have already taken.

Last year, the deputy of Diabo-Languibonou (center), Jacques Assahoré Konan, said he was "in the restaurant" at the RHDP, assuming that he had changed political color only for pecuniary interest. And his deputy, Dorothée Koffi, to add a layer a few weeks later, declaring that she had gone to "graze" at the RHDP, that is to say, to have gone to earn money for her municipality. Her statement caused such outrage in the pro-government press and on social media that Ms. Koffi backpedaled a few days later, saying her remarks "had been taken out of context".

"It's pure political clientelism"

"The problem is that of the centralization of power in Côte d'Ivoire," said a member of French cooperation. The functioning of the municipalities is so closely linked to the central power that the role of the municipal council is almost symbolic. Municipalities collect local taxes and forward them to the central budget. It is then up to the government, and primarily the budget minister, to reallocate these funds.

"Since the start of Ouattara's third term in 2020, the provisional budgets of municipalities led by members of the opposition have been blocked more often, especially on heavy investment projects, than those of municipalities stamped RHDP, continues our source. . And they are almost systematically revised downwards. This is pure political clientelism. »

The government has the municipalities by the wallet and keeps them under pressure with key budgets: garbage collection, road paving, drinking water distribution. “Elected officials find themselves begging from Anaged [National Waste Management Agency] for three wheelbarrows, a tricycle and shovels to collect their garbage. This is the daily life of an opposition town hall. »

The case of the sub-prefecture of Namané, a land in the west which traditionally votes PDCI, is particularly representative of this difference in treatment. Due to a lack of budget allocated to the rehabilitation of the road system, it has been in a deplorable state for several years, in particular the road which connects Issia to Daloa, sadly famous for its potholes. Originally from the region, the Minister for the Promotion of Youth, Mamadou Touré, recently took up the case and pleaded with President Ouattara, who agreed to allocate the necessary budget. "The citizens will have their 50 kilometers of asphalt, and in your opinion, who will be elected in the next municipal elections? “, ironically the Ivorian political scientist Jean Alabro.