Party Organization

Party Organization

In the late 1980s, power lay in the Political Bureau and Committee Directorate. Like the National Assembly, both were expanded in the mid-1980s in an attempt to broaden the PDCI's representation among educated people between the ages of thirtyfive and forty-five. The Political Bureau was expanded from 35 to 58 members, and the Committee Directorate grew from 100 to 208.

The members of the Political Bureau included the cabinet ministers, plus other members of the political, military, and business elite. Heading the Political Bureau was a thirteen-member Executive Committee, which in 1980 replaced the party secretary general at the apex of the party. (The transition from a single leader to a committee in fact appeared to constitute a calculated rebuff to Philippe Yacé, who was PDCI secretary general at the time.) By the mid-1980s, the Executive Committee was composed exclusively of younger cabinet ministers, thereby excluding many long-time political allies of the president.

Major policy decisions affecting the party and state originated in the Political Bureau. (The Political Bureau would probably be responsible for nominating a successor should the president, as seemed to be the case in 1988, decline to do so prior to leaving office.) Political divisions and alliances within the Political Bureau thus assumed great importance. The most apparent division was a generational one pitting old party stalwarts such as Mathieu Ekra, Auguste Denise, Camille Alliali, and Philippe Yacé against ambitious young technocrats such as Henri Konan Bedié, Jean Jacques Bechio, Balla Keita, and Alphonse Djedje Mady. Within the second group were equally significant divisions between the aforementioned Young Turks and other well-educated specialists such as Laurent Dona Fologo and Donwahi Charles, who were known as team players.

The Committee Directorate represented a further attempt to incorporate--some would say co-opt--larger segments of the population, especially potential foci of opposition, into the political process. Another purpose of the directorate was to invigorate the party by expanding its representation. Accordingly, the Committee Directorate included members of the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of the government, current and former military officers, leaders of government-backed unions, women, business leaders, and members of the professions, including university professors. It functioned by advising the president through a series of ad hoc committees addressing particular issues.

In the smaller cities, towns, and villages, the party official with whom most Ivoirians dealt was the local secretary general. As their principal task, all secretaries general sold party membership cards, the revenues from which funded local political operations. In larger constituencies, the secretary general served as a spokesperson and propagandist for the government by placing the symbols and slogans of governance before the voting public. In rural constituencies, the local secretary general settled disputes generally involving land tenure and land use.

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