An influential ex-rebel leader told Ivory Coast’s army to mutiny on Wednesday and back a rival breakaway government in the wake of a contested presidential election that the opposition says was illegal.
President Alassane Ouattara won the election with 94% of the vote, according to the electoral commission.
However, the opposition has boycotted the vote, arguing Ouattara’s bid for a third term broke a legal two-term limit and undermined the country’s democratic process.
Police in riot gear surrounded the houses of two of Ouattara’s main rivals on Wednesday after the government accused them of sedition for creating a parallel administration in defiance of Saturday’s victory declaration.
The standoff has raised concerns about instability in the world’s top cocoa producer, where a civil war killed 3,000 people in 2010-11 following a disputed election between Ouattara and his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo.
This election season, over 40 people have died in clashes. Guillaume Soro, who led the rebels that swept Ouattara to power during that war, but whose relationship with the president has since soured, released a message on Facebook on Wednesday night calling on the army to join the opposition government.