Five candidates are vying for the leadership of the PDCI-RDA, the leading opposition party in Côte d’Ivoire, seeking to succeed the late President Henri Konan Bédié. A congress is scheduled for December 16 to determine the successor. The contenders include the former mayor of Plateau, Noël Akossi Bendjo, the current mayor of Cocody, Jean-Marc Yacé, the party’s executive secretary, Maurice Kakou Guikahué, another party stalwart Komoué Koffi, and the financier Tidjane Thiam.
Thiam, the former Minister under Bédié and ex-CEO of Credit Suisse Group, has not set foot in Côte d’Ivoire for over twenty years. However, the candidates’ files must first be validated by the electoral committee, and Thiam’s lack of attendance in the former single-party’s structures could be questioned.
To be eligible for the PDCI presidency, a candidate must meet several criteria outlined in the party’s regulations. This includes being an Ivorian citizen aged 40 or older, possessing civil and political rights, having a reputation of “good moral standing,” being up-to-date with party dues, and having a minimum of ten years of seniority in the political bureau.
The Question of Seniority
Critics of Tidjane Thiam argue that his candidacy is deemed inadmissible due to the question of seniority. They highlight that the former Minister of Plan under Henri Konan Bédié was co-opted into the political bureau in October 1996 but was not listed in the political bureau after the PDCI congress in 2002. He was allegedly only reintegrated in March of the current year, resulting in just over six years of cumulative effective presence.
Arrears of Dues
Thiam’s supporters counter that members of the political bureau are elected by the congress and that nowhere in the party’s texts does it specify that this election should be renewed at each congress. They also argue that their candidate has cleared all his arrears of dues, justifying his more than 10 years of seniority in the political bureau. The electoral committee will be tasked with making a decision, expected to be communicated later this week.