ABIDJAN Oct 11 Ivory Coast's parliament on
Tuesday approved changing the constitution to ease nationality
rules for presidential candidates, a move the government says
will end prolonged instability but which the opposition says is
Ouattara promised during his re-election campaign last year
to remove the constitution's requirement for presidential
candidates to have parents who are both native-born Ivorians - a
sore point in a country that has long attracted immigrants from
neighbouring states in West Africa.
Nationality was at the heart of a crisis that began with a
1999 coup and ballooned into a 2002-2003 civil war that split
the major cocoa-producing country in two for eight years.
The new proposals soften the nationality clause, which had
been used by Ouattara's opponents to bar him from elections and
was a symbol of exclusion, particularly of northerners like him
whose family ties often straddle borders.
Of 250 members of parliament, 239 voted for the
constitutional change while eight voted against and two
abstained. The measure will now go to a referendum on Oct. 30.
Other revisions included removing a maximum age of 75 for
presidential candidates and making it easier to change the
constitution in future.
Opposition politicians and some civil society groups have
opposed the changes. Pascal Affi N'Guessan, the head of the main
opposition FPI party, criticised the proposed creation of the
post of vice-president and a senate, a third of whose members
would be appointed by the president, among other changes.
Opposition supporters demonstrated against the draft
constitution on Saturday and promised to do so again if it was
passed by parliament.
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; writing by Edward
McAllister; editing by Mark Heinrich)