Alassane Ouattara (French pronunciation: [alasan wataʁa]; born 1 January 1942) is an Ivoirian politician who has been President of Côte d'Ivoire since 2011. An economist by profession, Ouattara worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - where he rose to be deputy head -  and the Central Bank of West African States (French: Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, BCEAO), and he was the Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire from November 1990 to December 1993, appointed to that post by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Ouattara became the President of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), an Ivorian political party, in 1999.
Ouattara was born on 1 January 1942, in Dimbokro, Côte d'Ivoire, French West Africa. He is a descendant from his father's side of the Muslim rulers of the Kong Empire (Outtara himself is Muslim), also known as the Wattara or Ouattara Empire. He received a bachelor of science degree in 1965 from the Drexel Institute of Technology, which is now called Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ouattara then obtained both his master's degree in economics in 1967 and a PhD in economics in 1972 from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ouattara is married to Dominique Nouvian, a French-Ivorian businesswoman, since 1991. Their wedding ceremony should have been held in the town hall of the prestigious 16th arrondissement of Paris. Although there have been claims that the marriage ceremony was presided over by French President Nicolas Sarkozy when he was mayor of Neuilly, this was not actually the case.
Career at financial institutions
He was an economist for the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. from 1968 to 1973, and afterwards he was the BCEAO's Chargé de Mission in Paris from 1973 to 1975. With the BCEAO, he was then Special Advisor to the Governor and Director of Research from February 1975 to December 1982 and Vice Governor from January 1983 to October 1984. From November 1984 to October 1988 he was Director of the African Department at the IMF, and in May 1987 he additionally became Counsellor to the Managing Director at the IMF. On 28 October 1988 he was appointed as Governor of the BCEAO, and he was sworn in on 22 December 1988. Ouattara has a reputation as a hard-worker, keen on transparency and good governance. 
In April 1990, Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny appointed Ouattara as Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Committee for Coordination of the Stabilization and Economic Recovery Programme of Côte d'Ivoire; while holding that position, Ouattara also remained in his post as BCEAO Governor. He subsequently became Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire on 7 November 1990, after which Charles Konan Banny replaced him as Interim BCEAO Governor.
While serving as Prime Minister, Ouattara also carried out presidential duties for a total of 18 months, including the period from March 1993 to December 1993, when Houphouët-Boigny was ill. Houphouët-Boigny died on 7 December 1993, and Ouattara announced his death to the nation, saying that "Côte d'Ivoire is orphaned". A brief power struggle ensued between Ouattara and Henri Konan Bédié, the President of the National Assembly, over the presidential succession; Bédié prevailed and Ouattara resigned as Prime Minister on 9 December. Ouattara then returned to the IMF as Deputy Managing Director, holding that post from 1 July 1994, to 31 July 1999.
Prior to the October 1995 presidential election, the National Assembly of Côte d'Ivoire approved an electoral code which barred candidates if either of their parents were of a foreign nationality and if they had not lived in Côte d'Ivoire for the preceding five years. It was widely thought these provisions were aimed at Ouattara. Owing to his duties with the IMF, he had not resided in the country since 1990. Also, his father was rumoured to have been born in Burkina Faso. The Rally of the Republicans (RDR), an opposition party formed as a split from the ruling Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI) in 1994, sought for Ouattara to be its presidential candidate. In late June 1995, RDR Secretary-General Djéni Kobina met with Ouattara, at which time, according to Kobina, Ouattara said "I'm ready to join you". The party nominated Ouattara as its presidential candidate on 3 July 1995 at its first ordinary congress. The government would not change the electoral code, however, and Ouattara declined the nomination. The RDR boycotted the election, along with the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) of Laurent Gbagbo, leaving the PDCI's candidate, incumbent president Henri Konan Bédié, to win an easy victory.
President of the RDR
While serving as Deputy Managing Director at the IMF, in March 1998 Ouattara expressed his intention to return to Côte d'Ivoire and take part in politics again. After leaving the IMF in July 1999, he was elected President of the RDR on 1 August 1999 at an extraordinary congress of the party, as well as being chosen as its candidate for the next presidential election. He said that he was eligible to stand in the election, pointing to documents which he said demonstrated that he and his parents were of Ivorian birth.
He was accused of forging these papers, however, and an investigation was begun. President Bédié described Ouattara as a Burkinabé and said that Houphouët-Boigny "wanted Alassane Ouattara to concern himself only with the economy". Ouattara's nationality certificate, issued in late September 1999, was annulled by a court on 27 October. An arrest warrant for Ouattara was issued on 29 November, although he was out of the country at the time; he nevertheless said that he would return by late December.
On 24 December, the military seized power, ousting Bédié. Ouattara returned to Côte d'Ivoire after three months in France on 29 December, hailing Bédié's ouster as "not a coup d'état", but "a revolution supported by all the Ivorian people".
A new constitution, approved by referendum in July 2000, controversially barred presidential candidates unless both of their parents were Ivorian, and Ouattara was disqualified from the 2000 presidential election. The issues surrounding this were major factors in the Civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, which broke out in 2002.
When asked in an interview about Ouattara's nationality, Burkinabé President Capt. Blaise Compaoré responded, "For us things are simple: he does not come from Burkina Faso, neither by birth, marriage, or naturalization. This man has been Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire."
President Gbagbo affirmed on 6 August 2007 that Ouattara could stand in the next Ivorian presidential election. Ouattara was designated as the RDR's presidential candidate at its Second Ordinary Congress on 1–3 February 2008; he was also re-elected as President of the RDR for another five years. At the congress, he invited the former rebel New Forces, from whom he had previously distanced himself, to team up with the RDR for the election.
At the time, Ouattara said publicy that he did not believe Gbagbo would organize transparent and fair elections.
The RDR and the PDCI are both members of the Rally of Houphouëtistes, and while Ouattara and Bédié ran separately in the first round, each agreed to support the other if only the other made it into a potential second round.
2010 presidential election and aftermath
In the 2010 presidential election, Ouattara ran against incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo, whose mandate had expired in 2005, had delayed the election several times. The Electoral Commission of Côte d'Ivoire missed the deadline for declaring the results as papers were snatched from an official who was about to read the results on live TV. Later on, on 2 December 2010, the Independent Electoral Commission of Côte d'Ivoire (CEI) declared Alassane Ouattara winner of the second round of the presidential election. However, the Constitutional Council called this illegal because it was no longer in the hands of the Commission to give results. The Constitutional Council promised to finish its process and come out with results. The Constitutional Council has the final word on the outcome of elections. The head of the Constitutional Council then invalidated 500,000 votes from pro-Ouattara regions (which constituted almost 10% of the total vote), and thus, declared Gbagbo as the winner. The United Nations, which according to a 2007 peace deal is required to certify election results, rejected the Constitutional Council's figures.
The army closed the borders and foreign news organizations were banned from broadcasting from within Côte d'Ivoire. Mr Gbagbo was sworn in at a midday ceremony by the President of the Constitutional Council on Saturday 4 December 2010. Hours later, Ouattara said he had also taken the presidential oath. The African Union, the European Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN, the United States, and France were among the nations and international organizations that rejected Gbagbo's presidency. The International Monetary Fund stated they would only work with a government recognized by the United Nations. On 8 December, the UN Security Council formally recognized Ouattara as the winner, and, in a statement, asked "all stakeholders to respect the outcome of the election."
In the crisis that followed, Ouattara attempted to negotiate with Gbagbo for several months but seeing no resolution, ordered a military offensive which allowed him to seize control of most of the country. After an aborted negotiation attempt, Gbagbo was arrested by French special forces at the presidential palace and handed over to Ouattara forces in Abidjan on 11 April, 2011. The country has been severely damaged by the war, observers consider that it will be a challenge for Ouattara to rebuild the economy and reunite Ivorians.
The developments in the country have been welcomed by world leaders. U.S. President Barack Obama applauded news of the latest developments in Côte d'Ivoire and CNN quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying Gbagbo's capture "sends a strong signal to dictators and tyrants.... They may not disregard the voice of their own people".
2012 Marriage Law Row
In a controversial move in November 2012, President Ouattara sacked his government in a row over a new marriage law that would make wives joint heads of the household. His own party supported the changes but the elements of the ruling coalition resisted, with the strongest opposition coming from the Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire.
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