Supporters of proposed constitutional amendments in Ivory Coast have started a campaign ahead of a referendum on 30 October. The "Yes" camp campaign is led by the government of President Alassane Ouattara and aims to gain support for the new draft document before citizens head to the polls to decide whether they want to modify the current constitution.
The proposed changes scrap, among other things, the requirement that both parents of a presidential candidate must be native-born Ivorians and a clause that sets 75 as age limit to be able to run for president.
The draft document has fuelled speculations that 74-year-old Ouattara, whose father is from Burkina Faso, is seeking a third term in 2020. Critics of the proposed amendments have claimed they are anti-democratic.
The new text also proposes the creation of a vice-presidency that, according to opponents, will be used by Outtara to designate his successor when he steps down.
Ouattara, who has been president of Ivory Coast since 2010, has dismissed the allegations claiming that the new constitution will bring peace in the country, marred by years of violence.
"The Constitution is the guarantee, it's a life insurance policy for peace, for decades and decades so I'm asking you to come out in large numbers on October 30 to vote massively because this is how we are going to secure peace," Ouattara was quoted by AFP as saying during the launch of the campaign in the capital Abidjan on 23 October.
"Of course we don't personally agree with what's in the current constitution. But it was the compromise that was stopped by the political class and we do not want to give the impression that because we are in power we will simply ignore the point of view of others," he continued.
Some believe the amendments are likely to be approved in the referendum as those who oppose to the new constitution have decided to boycott the polls.
Earlier in October, critics of the changes took to the streets of Abidjan where police used tear gar against protesters and briefly detained some opposition leaders.
"[Ouattara] is treating Ivory Coast as if it were his personal property. What he is offering is less than a constitution. It is a will and testament designed to destribute his country to his successors so it stays in the family," said Laurent Gbagbo, head of the Ivorian Popular Front opposition party.
In 2010, Gbagbo contested the result of presidential election that saw Ouattara emerging as winner and refused to step down.
Gbagbo, who was forcibly removed from his office n April 2011, is standing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on four counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the post-election violence sparked in 2010.
His wife, Simone Gbagbo, was sentenced in March 2015 after being convicted of "attacking state authority" in 2010. The couple both denied the charges.