Ivory Coast Table of Contents
The question of who would succeed Houphouët-Boigny became the significant political issue by the beginning of the 1980s. Many political observers believed that if Houphouët-Boigny did choose a successor, internecine feuds would erupt within the PDCI. They also believed that, at least initially, no one could combine HouphouëtBoigny 's prestige, charisma, and experience with the political acumen that he had exercised over Ivoirian politics for almost thirty years.
In 1980 a constitutional amendment created the office of vicepresident , who was to succeed to the presidency in the event of a midterm vacancy and who would be chosen by and elected at the same time as the president. The next elections, however, were not scheduled until 1985, and Houphouët-Boigny had given no indication of his plans for a vice-presidential running mate. (In 1985 Houphouët-Boigny resolved the problem by amending the constitution, eliminating the position of vice-president.)
In the 1970s, Philippe Yacé, the president of the National Assembly and PDCI secretary general, seemed to be the most likely successor. In 1975 the National Assembly adopted a law stipulating that power would pass to the president of the assembly, confirming Yacé as the second most powerful man in the country. Nevertheless, Yacé, who was popular with party officials, had many enemies, mostly because of his role as chief accuser in the fabricated 1963 plot.
In 1980 the prospects for designating a presidential successor were even more obscured when Houphouët-Boigny abolished the post of PDCI secretary general held by Yacé, who had fallen into disfavor with the president because he was thought guilty of pride. Shortly thereafter, Yacé was also stripped of his position as president of the National Assembly.
By the early 1980s, the list of possible successors included members of the old guard in the top echelons of the party as well as technocrats--middle-aged, university-educated Ivoirians--who filled executive positions in the administrative bureaucracy and the economy. Among the old guard who enjoyed great support inside the PDCI were Minister of State Mathieu Ekra; Senior Minister of State Auguste Denise; and president of the Economic and Social Council Mamadou Coulibaly. The most likely candidate, however, was Henri Konan Bedié, a Baoulé, a technocrat, and the new National Assembly president. According to Article 11, amended, of the Constitution, the president of the National Assembly takes over the office of the president of the republic should the latter die or become incapacitated. The provisional president can then run for a full term in elections, which are to take place within sixty days. As provisional president, Bedié would have an edge over possible rivals. Moreover, demographic trends favored Bedié, who as a second generation politician enjoyed growing support from younger and middle-aged Iviorians who believed perhaps that Yacé, a first generation figure, was now too old. A third group of political rivals was a younger generation of politicians, most in their thirties, who were known for their effectiveness in the economic sphere and favored closer ties with the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
In the mid-1980s, political infighting threatened to spill over boundaries of the narrow circle of the party leadership, however. That Houphouët-Boigny continued to resist naming a successor proved disconcerting to all those in positions of power, as well as to the West and especially to France, which had extensive investments in Côte d'Ivoire.
Data as of November 1988