By Maria de Deu

The moment Tidjane Thiam succeeded the late Henri Konan Bédié as the leader of Pdci-Rda, he was promptly positioned by his party as their candidate for the 2025 presidential elections. This strategy was never kept under wraps. His recent and notable active re-entry into his party, Pdci-Rda, and the broader Ivorian political scene has garnered attention both nationally and internationally.

After over two decades abroad, Tidjane Thiam has returned to his native Ivory Coast, eager to contribute to the development of national policy and specifically that of the Pdci-Rda.

However, his initial venture into Ivorian politics has been met with mixed reactions from the entire Ivorian political class. Despite some legal disputes sparked by internal disagreements within the Pdci-Rda, the elective congress that propelled Tidjane Thiam to the leadership of Côte d’Ivoire’s foundational party was successfully conducted.

He now stands as the third president in the party’s history, following in the footsteps of Félix Houphouët-Boigny and Aimé Henri Konan Bedié, both of whom are now deceased.

There is no room for doubt. Tidjane Thiam will indeed be the Pdci-Rda’s candidate for the forthcoming 2025 presidential elections in Ivory Coast.

As he awaits his official inauguration, he and his political family are already gearing up for the challenge. “We must be ready. We need to prepare for this electoral deadline now, with determination and seriousness. We are at a pivotal juncture in our political history,” he underscored in his pre-election speech.

As a prospective presidential candidate, he is acutely aware of the enormity and significance of the task ahead. He recognizes that his presence will disrupt long-established political, economic, and social norms.

The Pdci is already laying the groundwork for 2025…

Neither the ruling party nor the opposition truly foresaw this development. It was primarily the sudden and tragic demise of Henri Konan Bedié that catalyzed and hastened his emergence.

His presence appears to unsettle many, particularly the current government, which perceives him as a formidable contender for state power in 2025. Criticisms from the Abidjan administration were swift.

“They contradict the values they themselves profess. They think they have discovered a gem. But there is no conviction behind it. We selected a man we believe we can manipulate, just to make President Ouattara step down. Finding a gem is commendable, but we are here.

President Ouattara is present. The time for debate is approaching. Whoever they choose, we will be there,” said Touré Mamadou, Minister of Youth Promotion, Professional Integration and Civic Service, taking a clear swipe at the new leader of the Pdci-Rda.

From the side of the PPA-CI of former Ivorian head of state, Laurent Gbagbo, there has yet to be a public stance against Tidjane Thiam. The “attacks” remain limited to social media for now. One thing is certain, Tidjane Thiam’s profile is shaking up the Ivorian political landscape, and his presence in Ivory Coast is amplifying this effect even more.

Translation from French by Daniel Okoth.