Ivory Coast president's party votes for coalition

WEB_PHOTO_OUTTARA_VOTES_18_12_2016

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (R) casts his ballot into an urn next to the President of the Independent Election Commission Youssouf Bakayoko (L) in Cocody, a commune of Abidjan, 18 Dec. 2016, in legislative elections.

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (R) casts his ballot into an urn next to the President of the Independent Election Commission Youssouf Bakayoko (L) in Cocody, a commune of Abidjan, 18 Dec. 2016, in legislative elections.

WEB_PHOTO_OUTTARA_VOTES_18_12_2016

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (R) casts his ballot into an urn next to the President of the Independent Election Commission Youssouf Bakayoko (L) in Cocody, a commune of Abidjan, 18 Dec. 2016, in legislative elections.

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (R) casts his ballot into an urn next to the President of the Independent Election Commission Youssouf Bakayoko (L) in Cocody, a commune of Abidjan, 18 Dec. 2016, in legislative elections.

ABIDJAN - The party of Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara on Saturday voted to back the formation of a large "unified party" with its allies, with the president saying there should be a primary to choose a candidate before presidential polls due in 2020.

"Everyone voted en masse for the unified party," said Henriette Diabate, president of the RDR.

Ouattara said the "unified party [was] an opportunity for Ivory Coast".

"Selfishness leads nowhere," he said, adding that the new formation would contribute to "political stability and economic development".

Ouattara, who came to power after a bloody five-month crisis in 2010-11 and is now in his second term, did not use the word primary but said the new party should "lay the basis for the choice of our next candidate".

"It will be a democratic choice. Everyone can be a candidate, the best among us will be chosen," he said.

Ouattara in 2010-11 ousted the then-president, Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down after losing elections and is now on trial in The Hague for war crimes

Violence between supporters of the two rivals claimed around 3,000 lives.

Ouattara has sparked opposition protests with a new Senate that took office last month, condemned as a costly rubber stamp for the president.

It is the fruit of a revised constitution overwhelmingly approved by a referendum in 2016 - the corner piece of Ouattara&39;s strategy of change.

The opposition boycotted the referendum on the charter, deriding the proposed constitution as undemocratic and crafted to let Ouattara boost his grip on power and hand-pick his successor.