(Bloomberg) -- Tidjane Thiam, former chief executive officer of Credit Suisse AG, launched a bid on Saturday to lead Ivory Coast’s main opposition party into the country’s 2025 presidential election. 

Thiam, who led the Swiss bank from March 2015 to February 2020, wants to restructure and reinvigorate the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, the 61-year-old former banker said during a campaign meeting. 

The party’s leadership vote is scheduled for Dec. 16. Whoever gains the top post in the PDCI, the French acronym for the party, would be in a strong position to become its presidential candidate in 2025. 

“I’ll assure you a smooth transition,” Thiam, who’s vying to lead the party after the death in August of Henri Konan Bedie, who headed the PDCI for three decades, told supporters. “Our party has no time for division, we face crucial challenges that need leadership. We will have to work for a peaceful, prosperous Cote d’Ivoire.”

Thiam, who holds dual Ivorian and French nationality, recently returned to the West African nation following a two-decade career abroad, including the stint at Credit Suisse. 

He’s now the executive chairman of the blank-check company Freedom Acquisition I Corp. that’s raised $345 million to finance merger and acquisition opportunities.

“I have always believed in decentralization, in all the structures I have managed,” Thiam said. “Giving autonomy and power to the grassroots is the condition for success.”

It remains to be seen if Thiam will face significant opposition in 2025 if he secures the party’s top post.  

The two other men who’ve dominated Ivorian politics since 1995 — President Alassane Ouattara, 81, and his predecessor and rival, Laurent Gbagbo, 78, are unlikely to run. Ouattara is finishing his third term. Gbagbo, who was stripped of his civic rights despite receiving a state pardon, has said he would only run if he’s pushed to.

Gbagbo was sentenced in absentia to a 20-year prison term for breaking into a branch of the regional central bank during the country’s 2011 post-election conflict.

Credit Suisse was acquired by competitor UBS Group AG in a government-brokered emergency buyout in March. 

--With assistance from Katarina Hoije.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.