ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — A day after lawmakers in war-torn Ivory Coast approved amending the constitution to widen the pool of potential presidential candidates, President Laurent Gbagbo said Saturday that he would not sign the bill and instead would hold a referendum on the issue.
Under the amendment, a person with one Ivorian-born parent would be allowed to run for president. Currently, both of a candidate's parents must have been born in the country.
The dual-parent clause was used in 2000 to exclude a popular opposition leader, former Premier Alassane Ouattara, from the presidential race. His exclusion helped drive the country toward a civil war.
Gbagbo's decision to hold a referendum on the issue immediately triggered accusations from rebel groups and their supporters that he was trying to wreck a French-backed peace plan that called for the amendment.