According to the British press, Tidjane Thiam is about to give up his French nationality to run for the Ivorian presidency in 2025. A risky bet and a decision perhaps early...
His return to Côte d'Ivoire was mixed to say the least. While he was expected on the family and personal ground, after nearly a quarter of a century spent far from the land of his ancestors, Tidjane Thiam has made his return to Côte d'Ivoire a political symbol.
Something to surprise observers of local political life. "Thiam made a mistake arriving by private jet, landing in Abidjan and not in Yamoussoukro," said a source close to the Ivorian opposition. Above all, barely after setting foot in Abidjan, Tidjane Thiam rushed to the presidential palace to meet Alassane Ouattara there, a year and a half after a first meeting with Dominique Ouattara. Then, Thiam went to meet Henri Konan Bédié and Laurent Gbagbo.
A very political return to Ivory Coast
Something to clarify things: in 2025, the banker intends to play a political role. And not just any. Whilehe said he wanted to focus on business, Thiam is determined to be a presidential candidate.
However, the former Minister of Planning and Development will not be able to move forward alone. "To be credible, he needs a big machine behind him," says one in his entourage. And this machine will logically be the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI-RDA), which is currently trying to renewing itself and preparing for the post-Bédié.
According to The Telegraph, Thiam is actively preparing for 2025. With a first symbolic gesture, which will prevent him from being criticized: the renunciation of his French nationality, as required by the Ivorian Constitution.
His arrival, Monday, August 8, in Côte d'Ivoire therefore had everything of a pre-campaign trip. It was above all a call from the foot to "HKB": "I never left the PDCI-RDA, I have always been a member of the PDCI-RDA", he recalled. Before repeating that he is the heir of the Father of the nation, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, his great-uncle. “We know the story of President Houphouët well, I know at least that of my maternal grandfather who is one of the founding signatories of the party at Etoile du Sud. So we form a PDCI family, we stay at the PDCI,” he said.
Is Thiam skipping the steps?
On the starting blocks for 2025, Thiam therefore has a preference for a PDCI-RDA investiture. But is it really the right time? In the corridors of the palace, there is a presentiment of a new candidacy of Alassane Ouattara in three years. Within the PDCI-RDA, we would not necessarily understand the “parachuting” of the banker, who has not participated in the life of the party for the past two decades.
So, what solution for Thiam? "He must toughen up, get back into the political game and be patient," says those around the PDCI's political office. Going immediately to the presidency would be political suicide”. Pushed by his entourage - in particular his sister -, Thiam seems however impatient to run for the presidency. But “it weighs nothing in terms of the electorate”, warns our source at the PDCI-RDA.
In December 2021, Tidjan Thiam had cast doubt on a candidacy: “I do everything I can in my field of expertise, that is to say in economics, to get things done. But I will answer your question… Ask me again in 2025,” he quipped. According to the British press, his decision seems to be made. But the Ivorian political arena is not the world of Swiss finance… Thiam should quickly realize this!