A time tipped to be a candidate for the Ivorian presidential election in 2020, Tidjane Thiam has just launched an investment fund. But he keeps an eye on the next electoral deadlines ...
He put politics on hold… waiting for the right moment? A time expected to be the candidate of the PDCI-RDA, the opposition party in Côte d'Ivoire, Tidjane Thiam did not finally return to Abidjan last year, more than two decades after leaving his country, as the observers imagined. Internally, the rumor of the arrival of the former protégé of Henri Konan-Bédié had caused a stir within the old party. Pushed by his family - particularly his sister - to get a foothold in Ivorian politics, the former Minister of Planning and Development had kept away from the debates. But he had carefully watched his popularity curve grow.
At the time, the announced return of the former HKB minister was annoying. "Tidjane Thiam has his place in the PDCI-RDA like all of us, like all activists," said one of the party's influential activists, Basile Yao. A blow for the executives, including Jean-Louis Billon and Thierry Tanoh, who viewed with a dim view their exclusion from the negotiations between their party president and the former banker of Credit Suisse. Be that as it may, the PDCI-RDA has never officially spread over the relations between its president and Thiam. Marc-Arthur Gaulithy, spokesperson for the latter, had simply stated that Tidjane Thiam had "regular contact" with Bédié.
Political ambitions… for 2025?
But was there any question of a candidacy in 2020? This seems unlikely, Thiam not being part of the political bureau of the PDCI-RDA. "He is not even an activist," lamented a party executive in the summer of 2020. However, according to relatives of Houphouët-Boigny's party, Thiam's brother, Abdel Aziz, who is a member of the PDCI, would be in charge of maintaining contact with HKB. What purpose ? In search of rejuvenation, the PDCI-RDA is looking for a future leader. And this is no surprise to anyone: despite Thiam's criticisms of Bédié, the ex-banker could very well be a good option for the next presidential election. And it could put an end to the ambitions of some executives eyeing the post.
Removed from the political scene since 1999, the year in which he left Côte d'Ivoire, Tidjane Thiam has never been far from the current leaders. Also holder of a French passport, Thiam would have even been proposed by Emmanuel Macron for the post of French Minister of Economy and Finance. This dual nationality could also be a brake in his possible race for the Ivorian presidency. The fact that he never relaunched body and soul in the politics of his country of origin as well. Because, in the eyes of the public, Tidjane Thiam remains a simple technocrat. A businessman who has just launched an investment fund, Freedom Acquisition.
Contacts with Bédié, Gbagbo and Ouattara
This profile is a double-edged sword: if the PDCI-RDA and the RHDP of Alassane Ouattara were to, during the new presidential mandate which has just started, dialogue and find a minister of national union, there is no doubt that the name of Thiam would return to the center of discussions. HKB and ADO had already mentioned a possible appointment of the former Minister of Planning and Development as a candidate of the unified party, when the two men were still allies. Despite his distance from Ivorian political life, Thiam therefore remains a serious option for running for a post. Or even the presidency of the PDCI-RDA? In any case, his name comes up regularly in discussions, even if the businessman today has to deal with many enemies within the opposition party.
To achieve his ends, Thiam, who no longer hides his ambitions, can count on a strong ally: a close friend of Jean-Luc Bédié, the eldest son of the current president of the PDCI-RDA, Tidjane Thiam is not resistant to the idea of preparing his candidacy in 2025. During the 2020 campaign, he said he was in favor of postponing the ballot to, he said, "seal reconciliation and social peace". Great-nephew of Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Thiam began, behind the scenes, the work. In regular contact with HKB, but also with Laurent Gbagbo, the boss of the Freedom Acquisition fund also met, last October, the First Lady Dominique Ouattara in Paris. On the menu of discussions, there was talk of a return to Abidjan for Tidjane Thiam. Courted by the PDCI-RDA and the RHDP, he will be spoiled for choice if he decides to return to politics.