Ivory Coast tackles vexed issue of nationality

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In Ivory Coast, the National Assembly has adopted a controversial draft constitution by a landslide, changing the eligibility rules for candidates running for president.

The next step is to present the constitution to the electorate in a referendum. The opposition is likely to boycott the vote, making it easier for President Alassane Ouattara to gain the necessary majority for it to become the supreme law of the land.

Mr Ouattara says the new constitution will lead to Ivory Coast turning a new page, ending many years of strife over who is eligible to serve as president.

The issue might seem personal – it scraps the requirement that both parents of presidential candidates must be native-born Ivorians. This was used in the past to prevent Mr Ouattara from running for office.

But many Ivorians will support the new draft, particularly those who have family ties to neighbouring states..They, like the president, faced discrimination, and were often accused of not being real Ivorians.

They tend to live in northern Ivory Coast where a rebellion was launched some 15 years ago against the then-government to end perceived discrimination.

So if Mr Ouattara, a northerner, had left office without tackling the issue they would have felt betrayed.

 

Source: BBC