President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, said on Thursday he would not seek re-election in October.
Ouattara had previously said he would run if his longtime political rivals were in the race, contrary to suggestions that the constitution does not give him the right to seek a third term.
But in an address to lawmakers, the former economist declared, he would hand over power to a new generation after 10 years in office, ending speculations about his political future ahead of the highly-anticipated vote.
“I have decided not to be candidate in the Oct. 31 presidential election and to transfer power to a new generation,” Ouattara said, prompting applause, cheers and gasps from audience members in the capital Yamoussoukro.
Ouattara was first elected president of Ivory Coast in a 2010 election that sparked a brief civil war when his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede defeat. Around 3,000 people died in the violence.
There’s been increasing political tensions in recent months after the government issued an arrest warrant for Guillaume Soro, a presidential candidate and former rebel leader whose forces swept Ouattara to power in 2011.
Ouattara’s main rivals, former presidents Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bedie, have not yet indicated whether they will contest in the October elections.