Ivory Coast opposition leader and former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan was under arrest on Saturday for creating a rival government after President Alassane Ouattara’s election victory, his wife and a spokeswoman said.
Ivorian prosecutors are pursuing “terrorism” charges against more than a dozen opposition leaders who boycotted the October 31 vote, in which Ouattara won a third term in office, and announced they were creating a transitional council.
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The standoff has raised fears of protracted instability in the world’s top cocoa producer, whose disputed 2010 presidential election led to a brief civil war.
Affi N’Guessan was arrested overnight after the public prosecutor confirmed on Friday he was being sought by the police, his wife, Angeline Kili, told the Reuters news agency.
“I confirm that my husband was arrested during the night but I don’t know where he is right now,” she said. Genevieve Goetzinger, a spokeswoman for Affi N’Guessan, said on Twitter he was arrested in the southeastern town of Akoupe while en route to his hometown of Bongouanou.
The police were not immediately available for comment.
Fear of violence
Affi N’Guessan served as prime minister from 2000-2003 under President Laurent Gbagbo, whose refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara after the 2010 election sparked a civil war that killed 3,000 people.
The opposition claims Ouattara has violated the constitution by seeking a third term. Ouattara says approval of a new constitution in 2016 restarted his mandate and allowed him to run again.
This election season, more than 40 people died in clashes.
The United Nations refugee agency said more than 3,200 people fled into neighbouring Liberia, Ghana and Togo, fearing violence.
In neighbouring Guinea, a similar election crisis in which President Alpha Conde won a third term last month caused rioting in which dozens have died.
Guinea also has a two-term limit but like Ouattara, Conde said a recent change to the constitution allowed him to restart his mandate.