Updated: Oct 19
October 13, 2020 / 15.00 PM --
The latest poll by KASI Insight reveals that Côte d'Ivoire President, Alassane Ouattara, has a tepid approval rating of 38%. A new candidate, Tidjane Thiam, emerges with a possible backing of 37% as revealed by our polls. Ouattara, who is seeking a controversial third term, looks to be in rough waters as 87% of Ivorians who watched Thiam's speech express positive sentiment regarding their expectations for him as president. In fact, should the incumbent win a third term, Thiam's name is being floated favorably in a more senior role in a future Ouattara administration.
Thiam believed to have the potential to be a good presidential candidate
According to the KASI Insight poll, 37% of registered voters believe that Thiam would make a good president, and nearly half, 47%, think that he should launch into the campaign. This might be a game-changer as campaigning is set to kick start on the 15th of October ahead of a crucial presidential election scheduled for the 31st of October.
A possible role for Thiam in Ivorian politics could be a positive development for Ivory Coast. He is well respected and also served as chief financial officer and CEO of Prudential and has a background in management.
In April, Africa Union chairperson and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Thiam together with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, and Trevor Manuel as special envoys of the African Union to mobilize international support for Africa’s efforts to combat COVID-19.
President Emmanuel Macron also perceives Thiam as a figure capable of lowering political tension in the country. According to the Financial Times, Macron met Ouattara at the Elysée Palace on the 4th of September and failed to persuade him to postpone elections. He is said to have put in Thiam’s name on the table, for a more senior role in the next government.
Additionally, Africa Report reports of a discreet meeting between Thiam and Côte d'Ivoire’s First Lady, Dominique Ouattara. The meeting is said to have taken place at the beginning of October 2020, in an upmarket Parisian address, where the two are said to have discussed the elections. The publication said the First Lady tried to probe the former banker about his plans before asking him if he was considering returning to Abidjan.
Ivorians fear instability and violence due to a potentially contested election
The election is seen as one of the biggest tests of the stability of the West African nation since a disputed vote led to a brief civil war in 2010-2011. Recently, opposition supporters came out to protest against Ouattara’s plan to seek a third term. In March this year, he announced that he would not seek a third term, before changing his mind in August after the death of his runner-up, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Fifteen people died in August in violent protests that followed the announcement. Most Ivorians fear that worse is to come since the last time the country had a close election, 3,000 people were killed.
The KASI poll shows that Ivorians appear to be losing confidence in Ouattara after his announcement that he will be running for the third term with a 31% disapproval rating. Of this number, 54% of men disapprove his performance.
About seven-in-ten voters (64%) are also not satisfied with the way things are going in Côte d'Ivoire, the vast majority of whom (71%) are millennials. Though voters are generally dissatisfied, 59% of them confirmed that they still intend to vote in the next election. However, 25% of these voters think the elections will not be fair and transparent.
Ouattara is going to face three other candidates - the main coalition partner, Henri Konan Bédié from the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire; Pascal Affi N’Guessan, ex-Prime Minister leader of the FPI, as well as Kouadio Konan Bertin who is running as an independent.
Results for this poll are based on online interviews conducted by KASI Insight between August 11-13, with a random sample of adult voters, aged 18 and older, living all over Côte d'Ivoire.
Fidelis Zvomuya. Fidelis is a reporter at KASI Insight covering politics, the environment, and economics in Africa