October 05, 2016 - 7:17 AM
ABIDJAN, Cote d'Ivoire - Ivory Coast lawmakers on Wednesday began reviewing a draft constitution that would alter a clause determining who is eligible to be president — one at the centre of a political crisis that turned deadly.
President Alassane Ouattara, who once was barred from running for that office amid claims that he was a foreigner, presented the draft to the National Assembly. A referendum is planned for late October.
Under the existing constitution, both parents of presidential candidates must be Ivorian.
Ouattara has always said he was eligible, but he vowed to change the constitution during his campaign for re-election last year. The new draft says candidates must claim Ivorian nationality exclusively and have an Ivorian-born father or mother.
When Ouattara was first elected in 2010, former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to acknowledge the win, leading to months of violence that claimed more than 3,000 lives. Gbagbo is currently on trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
Government spokesman Bruno Kone has described the current constitution as a "carrier of the germs of conflict."
In his remarks Wednesday, Ouattara said the new constitution would consolidate peace. "Ivorians must understand that this is done in their interest and in the common interest of everyone," he said.
Opposition leaders accuse Ouattara of trying to impose the new constitution without proper consultations. Gbagbo allies and other Ouattara critics have vowed to fight the changes.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016