The congress of the Ivory Coast’s main opposition party faced an unexpected suspension by a court order just as delegates were gearing up to elect a new leader on Saturday. The Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast (PDCI) was on the verge of selecting its new leader ahead of the 2025 elections.
A judge at the Abidjan court issued an order on Friday, as revealed by AFP, bringing the gathering to a halt. The judge’s directive, prompted by two complaints from activists alleging irregularities in the list of congress participants, ordered the “suspension and postponement of the PDCI congress.” The ruling also cited concerns about the potential disruption of public order.
The two prominent candidates vying for the leadership position are Ivorian-French banker Tidjane Thiam and 62-year-old Jean-Marc Yace, the mayor of a commune in Abidjan.
Expressing their displeasure, PDCI spokesman Soumaila Bredoumy condemned the court’s decision, characterizing it as practices from another era that undermine democracy and freedoms. Bredoumy urged supporters not to succumb to provocation.
On the morning of the congress, a substantial police presence was witnessed in front of the party headquarters in Abidjan, where numerous delegates from various regions were prevented from entering. One delegate from Tabou in the southeast, around 400 kilometers away, expressed frustration, stating that police were blocking all entrances.
Ramata Gnamien, another disappointed party member, questioned the restriction on their right to choose their president, emphasizing their intent to keep the party alive.
Both candidates, Thiam and Yace, took turns urging activists to remain calm in front of the party headquarters. Thiam, with the support of approximately 50 out of 63 party deputies in the national assembly, is considered the frontrunner for the new PDCI leader.
The PDCI, once the sole legal party in Ivory Coast, aimed to rejuvenate its image at the congress following the death of its former leader, Henri Konan Bedie, four months ago. Since a 1999 coup that ousted President Bedie, the PDCI has not reclaimed power.