Tidjane Thiam, the former CEO of Credit Suisse and Prudential, is considering running for president of the Ivory Coast, which would require him to renounce his French citizenship.
The French-Ivorian banker is said to have sought legal advice on his dual citizenship in preparation for a possible run for the West African nation’s highest office in 2025.
If Mr. Thiam wishes to run in the upcoming presidential election, he will most likely need to resolve his citizenship status over the next two and a half years. According to the Ivorian constitution, presidential candidates must be Ivorian citizens and cannot hold a foreign passport.
Mr. Thiam’s return to Ivorian politics comes more than two decades after he left the West African country’s cabinet following a coup to pursue a career in finance.
He worked for McKinsey and Aviva before becoming Prudential’s chief executive in 2009, making him the first black CEO of a FTSE 100 company.
Six years later, Mr. Thiam left to run Credit Suisse. He was forced to resign in 2020 due to a corporate spying scandal in which he denied wrongdoing.
Mr. Thiam has since sold his Zürich residence and is said to divide his time between London and Paris, with the latter serving as his primary residence.
Outside of finance, he has taken an active interest in African politics, serving as a special envoy for the African Union and assisting the continent in dealing with the economic consequences of the Covid pandemic.
Mr. Thiam visited the Ivory Coast last month for meetings and to see family for the first time in over 20 years.
Mr Thiam was welcomed by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara at his home in the fashionable Cocody Riviera district upon his arrival in Abidjan on August 8.
Mr. Thiam’s elder brothers, the governor of Yamoussoukro, Augustin Thiam, and the minister of transport, Aziz Thiam, all attended the hour-long meeting.
Mr. Thiam, the grandson of the Ivory Coast’s first president and the son of an Ivorian politician, served under President Henri Konan Bédié from 1993 to 1999, when the government was overthrown in a military coup.
He was out of the country at the time and returned to the Ivory Coast, where he was placed under house arrest. Mr. Thiam was exiled after the new military regime offered him a position as chief of staff.
Mr. Thiam’s spokesman stated that he maintains “regular and cordial contact” with former presidents Laurent Gbagbo and Mr. Bédié. During his recent trip, he met both men.
During their conversation, Mr. Thiam stated that he still supports his party.
However, he has largely avoided Ivorian politics since the coup and only returned to the fray in October 2020, during the last election, after Mr. Ouattara’s chosen successor died unexpectedly.
Mr. Ouattara eventually took a third term in office, in violation of constitutional term limits, sparking protests and violence.
“We must promote unity and avoid that which divides,” Mr. Thiam said in an interview with TV5Monde days before the election, declining to comment on Mr. Ouattara’s legality.
Mr. Ouattara, who will be 83 years old when the next election takes place, met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris at the time to discuss the crisis. During the subsequent talks, Mr. Thiam’s name was floated as a possible addition to a future Ivorian government.
Mr. Thiam has frequently spoken about his feelings of guilt for living in a developed country when there is so much he could do and contribute to his native Ivory Coast.
In a December 2021 interview with the magazine Jeune Afrique, he brushed off questions about his presidential ambitions.
“I do what I can in my area of expertise, which is economics,” he explained.
“However, I will answer your question if you ask me again in 2025.”
We reached out to Mr. Thiam and his representatives for comment.
Culled from Telegraph. co. uk