Bus torched in Ivory Coast as election tensions run high


Protesters in Ivory Coast set fire to a bus in Abidjan on Friday after deadly protests earlier in the week against the president’s decision to seek a third term, and organisers elsewhere vowed further action against his bid to stand again.

Five people have been killed and more than 100 wounded during demonstrations in recent days, official figures showed, as tensions ran high after President Alassane Ouattara announced last week he would run for re-election on 31 October.

Opponents say the move violates a constitutional two-term limit and jeopardises the tenuous stability achieved since Ouattara’s first election win in 2010 sparked a brief civil war.

On Friday, the remnants of tyre barricades smouldered in the opposition stronghold of Bonoua, as residents gathered in the rubble of the town’s police station that was torched by protesters the previous day after one of them was shot dead.

A column of police reinforcements arrived in Bonoua on Thursday night after the crowd clashed with police who used tear gas and live bullets, witnesses said.

“We’re going to march until October. Tomorrow we will keep on marching,” said local youth leader Frederik N’Ta N’Chou, to cheers from the crowd. “We don’t have weapons but we have stones.”

Security Minister Vagondo Diomande said order had been restored across Ivory Coast.

“The government calls on everyone to exercise restraint,” he said in a statement late on Friday.

Opposition groups insist the president must stand down after serving two terms, in accordance with the law, but Ouattara says the new constitution, adopted in 2016, acted as a reset button, allowing him to run again.

While there was far less public unrest on Friday than previous days, a small protest in Yopougon, a district of the commercial capital Abidjan, saw a passenger bus set on fire in the early hours. By midday, traffic was flowing normally under the supervision of a police patrol.