Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire have arrested opposition leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan as part of a growing violence against those who challenged the presidential re-election for a third term, opposition party officials said on Saturday.
N’Guessan was arrested in Akoupé, a city northeast of Abidjan, on his way to Bongouanou, his ancestral homeland, according to a statement published on the official page of his Ivorian Popular Front.
The arrest comes after authorities arrested a top-ranking official from another opposition party, Maurice Kakou Guikahue of the PDCI.
The opposition has referred to President Alassane Ouattara’s re-election to a third term as an “election coup.” It tried to question the legitimacy of his candidacy before the vote on October 31 and maintained the president had already served two terms. Ouattara claimed he could drive again due to a constitutional referendum in 2016.
N’Guessan and the other main opposition candidate, Henri Konan Bedie, boycotted the vote and said shortly afterwards that they believed Ouattara’s term had ended. The government called the statement “a rebellious act.”
On Friday, prosecutor Adou Richard said N’Guessan would be prosecuted on charges of terrorism and attack by a state authority and that the authorities were also looking for another opposition figure, Albert Toikeusse Mabri.
However, prosecutors said the 86-year-old Bedie was “neither arrested nor under house arrest.”
There has been widespread fear of post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire, where more than 3,000 people were killed after a controversial vote a decade ago.
Opposition leaders said more than 30 people had died in violence linked to this year’s election.