A coalition of Ivory Coast opposition figures said on Tuesday that dozens of its members were rounded up on the street or at their homes in the wake of protests last week against President Alassane Ouattara’s bid for a second term, a spokesman said.
At least one person was killed, others were injured and property was damaged in two days of demonstrations against the constitutional court’s validation of Ouattara’s candidacy for an Oct. 25 presidential election.
Before winning power in an election in 2010, Ouattara was twice excluded from running for office as opponents questioned his national origins. The issue of identity was among the central causes of years of turmoil, including civil wars in 2002 and 2011.
A spokesman for the National Coalition for Change (CNC), the opposition block that called the protests, said 21 of its members were arrested in the commercial capital Abidjan, while eight more were detained in the towns of Gagnoa and Adzope.
“They are in police custody. The police took them all either from their homes or in the street,” Cesar Etou said.
Next month’s vote in the world’s top cocoa grower, which Ouattara is heavily favoured to win, is meant to draw a line under the crisis years and reassure investors drawn to its rapid post-war economic revival.
Police and interior ministry officials were not immediately available to respond to the CNC’s arrest claims.
Government spokesman Bruno Kone told Reuters he was not aware of any arrests but said the authorities were within their rights to detain anyone responsible for inciting violence.
“We don’t arrest people who haven’t done anything,” he said. “There are some who have an agenda, and we know it. They absolutely made trouble and we must not allow them a free hand.”