- Title: Ivory Coast president enacts new constitution as “promise of peace” amid criticsm.
- Date: 10th November 2016
- Summary: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (FILE) (REUTERS) VEHICLES DRIVING PAST HIGHWAY
- Embargoed: 25th November 2016 14:52
- Keywords: Constitution Refurendum Alassane Ouattara Vote Law Promulgation
- Location: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST
- City: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST
- Country: Ivory Coast
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00457V2CT3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: President Alassane Ouattara signed a new constitution into law on Tuesday (November 08) casting it as the way to a peaceful future for Ivory Coast, which has emerged as one of Africa's rising economic stars after years of violent upheaval.
At a promulgation ceremony attended by government officials and other guests, the president said the constitution would ensure that there was peace and stability in the country in future.
"The promises of this government are those of stability, equality, peace and modernity. This new constitution will also allow us to reinforce national cohesion and institutions in our country, it is addressed to all Ivorians, whatever their origin, their rank or creed," he said.
In a referendum last month, voters overwhelmingly endorsed the new charter - one of Ouattara's campaign promises during his re-election bid last year - with some 93 percent of ballots cast for the "Yes" on an official turnout of just over 42 percent.
The new constitution's promulgation creates the West African nation's third republic.
"The challenges facing our country are many and pressing. With this new constitution, Ivory Coast is henceforth equipped to face these challenges in order to achieve progress, that is why I am committed more than ever to continue the work of transforming our country and accelerate reforms for the happiness and well-being of each and every Ivorian," Ouattara said.
Ivory Coast's previous constitution, drafted under military rule following a 1999 coup, was at the heart of a decade of turmoil that included two civil wars.
In its most controversial clause, it said presidential candidates' parents must both be natural-born Ivorians - a swipe at northerners, many of whom, like Ouattara, have family ties that straddle the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali.
The new constitution scraps that rule, which was used to disqualify Ouattara from a vote in 2000, and now only one parent must be Ivorian.
Critics, however, denounced the process of drafting the new constitution and submitting it to referendum as rushed and lacking transparency.
Geoffrey Julien is a political analyst based in Abidjan.
"They needed to have consulted the population across the board, and you even saw that during the electoral campaign, there was great rush, almost a suicidal one, which contributed to the unpopularity of the vote. In order vote, one needs to understand and read, so the people needed time to read and familiarise themselves with the text, by reading it and understanding it and then after, they would been in a better position to formulate an opinion on this constitutional question," he said.
Following nearly six years with Ouattara at the helm, the world's top cocoa producer is now on track to be Africa's fastest growing economy this year.
The new constitution also creates the post of vice president and a senate. The president says all these new measures will guarantee more political stability. Ouattara's 2010 election sparked the most recent armed conflict.
Julien reckons that very little has changed in the new constitution when compared to the old one.
"The new constitution has not changed the way the government is set up, we remain a Republic, it has not changed the way the state is run, we still have a military and it does not change the nature of the political regime, we remain a presidential regime. It's a revision of the previous constitution, but we cannot call it a new constitution, it's just the continuation of the previous constitution," he said.
Opposition parties boycotted the Oct. 30 referendum and accused the authorities of employing fraud to inflate the vote's turnout in an effort to boost the constitution's legitimacy.
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