At least four people have been killed in clashes in Ivory Coast as hundreds took to the streets following President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term this October.
Three people were killed in the central town of Daoukro in clashes between Ouattara supporters and backers of rival candidate Henri Konan Bedie, a security source and witnesses said.
On Thursday, an 18-year-old died in the southeastern town of Bonoua, 50km from the economic hub, Abidjan, in violence between demonstrators and security forces, said Mayor Jean-Paul Amethier.
“The police station in Bonoua has been ransacked by angry demonstrators, and the police chief and officers have taken refuge in the courtyard,” local resident Herve Niamkey said.
In Abidjan, scattered groups of demonstrators built barricades and burned tyres in response to a call from the opposition and civil society groups.
“His candidacy is against the constitution – we don’t want a third term,” said protester Herve Seka in Anono district.
The government announced a ban on protests late on Wednesday in a communique read on state television.
Despite the violence, Ouattara’s Houphouetist Rally for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) party announced he would be formally nominated as its candidate at a big rally in Abidjan on 22 August.
Ouattara, 78, announced a week ago he would contest the 31 October presidential elections – a move that came after his anointed successor Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly died of a heart attack.
The announcement sparked fury among Ouattara’s critics, as he has already served two terms and can only contest a third by arguing that a constitutional change entitles him to reset the clock.
The vote is taking place in a country still scarred by a low-level civil war that erupted in 2011 when former strongman Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Ouattara after losing elections.