Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara has announced that he would propose "modifications" to the country's constitution.
The announcement has attracted massive criticism from critics and especially the opposition in the country. Opposition parties claim the president plans to modify the constitution to sideline opponents from this year's presidential elections.
President Ouattara has since backed up his New Year's announcement and rebuffed the reports saying that the constitutional amendments will favour all parties.
In ceremonies to mark the New Year, Ouattara said, "In the first quarter of the year, I will put to parliament proposals for modifications to the constitution."
The aim is to make the constitution "more coherent… to further consolidate the state of law and bring institutions closer to our fellow citizens.
"I have just turned 78, and I'm not thinking about excluding anyone, myself included;" he said.
The president has however given no details about the part of the constitution that would receive amendments. Still, some opposition fears that the bill would include age restrictions that would bar former presidents Laurent Gbagbo, 74, and Henri Konan Bedie, 85, from running for office in October.
Ouattara addressed the claims saying such a move would also exclude him from running for office.
"I would like to reassure one, and all that this is not about 'stalling' anyone. As I have said, anyone can be a candidate," Ouattara said.
"I have just turned 78, and I'm not thinking about excluding anyone, myself included."
Many social observers have called for an age restriction that will see former presidents Laurent Gbagbo, 74, Henri Konan Bedie, 85, and President Alassane Ouattara, 78, restricted from contesting for the October pools.
Ouattara came to power in 2011 after a prolonged crisis that ended with the ouster of then-president Laurent Gbagbo following bloodshed that claimed 3,000 lives.
He has kept the country guessing as to whether he will run again.
He maintains he has the right to bid for a new term under a change of the constitution in 2016, which the opposition denies.
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Header Image Credit: DW