* Revisions to be put to parliament on Wednesday
* Would remove age limit for presidential candidates
* Make it easier to change constitution
By Joe Bavier
ABIDJAN, Oct 3 Ivory Coast voters will decide
this month whether to soften a nationality clause that helped
trigger a decade-long political crisis, a draft of a new
constitution showed on Monday.
President Alassane Ouattara promised during his campaign for
re-election last year to change the language of an article in
the constitution which states the parents of presidential
candidates must both be natural-born Ivorians.
Ivorian nationality was at the heart of a crisis that began
with a 1999 coup and included a 2002-2003 civil war that split
the country in two for eight years.
The proposed revision to the constitution, seen by Reuters
and due to be presented to parliament on Wednesday, means only
one parent must now be "Ivorian by origin", a term that excludes
Ivory Coast has long attracted immigrants from neighbouring
countries, and the clause became a symbol of exclusion,
particularly of northerners whose family ties often straddle
Ouattara, a northerner, was repeatedly barred from seeking
the presidency because of what opponents said were his foreign
He finally won election in 2010, although his victory
sparked a second brief war that killed more than 3,000 people.
The new constitution, which will go to a public referendum
on Oct. 30, also removes an age limit of 75 for presidential
All three of Ivory Coast's main political figures - Ouattara
and former presidents Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bedie -
will be over 75 in 2020, when the next elections are due.
New language also makes it easier to change the
It lowers the number of votes required for revisions
submitted directly for approval by parliament to two-thirds of
MPs from four-fifths and removes a clause requiring a public
referendum for any changes to presidential mandates.
Other major changes include creating a post of
vice-president and a Senate.
Currently, the speaker of parliament is second in line to
the president, but the constitution states that new elections
must be organised within 90 days, a time frame critics say is
Under the new charter, the vice-president would finish the
mandate if the president died or was incapacitated while in
The creation of the Senate, which together with the existing
National Assembly will make up a two-chamber Congress, marks an
expansion of the president's influence over the legislative
branch of government.
A third of senators will be appointed by the president. The
remaining two thirds will be chosen in an indirect election
process, details of which must be worked out in a separate law.
Ivory Coast's opposition has criticised the drafting process
for the new constitution, claiming it lacked transparency. It
had called a sit-in in front of parliament on Wednesday, when
Ouattara will put the changes to lawmakers, but municipal
authorities said the demonstration was not authorised.
(Additional reporting by Ange Aboa; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)