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November 20, 2011

Ivory Coast Political Party Threatens Election Boycott

by James Butty

The Ivorian Popular Front Party of former President Laurent Gbagbo says it will not take part in next month’s parliamentary election unless the government of President Alassane Ouattara meets its demands.

President Ouattara has reportedly rejected any delay in the December 11 poll.

Tape Kipre, chief of elections for Gbagbo’s party says their demands include the release of the former President, who was arrested last April following months of post-election violence.

“The first measure to take is security, for Mr. Ouattara has his personal militia to rule over the country and they even sentence people. This is what we are not ready to accept,” Kipre said.

He said The Ivorian Popular Front Party also wants equal representation on the country’s electoral commission.

“In a democratic process, we have to balance the electoral commission. Right now, Mr. Ouattara and Mr. Bedie’s [former President Henri Konan Bedie] people are the ones to dominate the electoral commission.  During Mr. Gbagbo’s power, we balanced the electoral commission.  Now, you have 39 representatives for Mr. Bedie and Mr. Ouattara against two for the FPI,” Kipre said.

He rejects the suggestion that the FPI was making the demands because it may not be ready to contest the December 11 election.

Kipre said the FPI was the dominant party in last November’s election.

“The first step of [the] presidential election year 2010, they told us that we are the first party representing some 38 percent of the electoral population. Mr. Alassane Ouattara, during that time, won just 32 [percent].  So, we don’t fear election, but Mr. Ouattara and Mr. Bedie are the ones to fear FPI to participate in any business that can give life to the democratic process,” Kipre said.

He said the Ivorian Popular Front Party also wants the return of exiles and the release of party militants, including Gbagbo.

“In our sense, it’s compulsory to get Mr. Gbagbo free from prison, as well as all those who have been detained unjustly, if we want to go to any reconciliation process and if we want to go to any election process,” he said.

Kipre said the party also wants public financing of political parties.

“We are not demanding or even requesting.  That is done with regard to our law.  It has been voted in the law during Mr. Gbagbo’s power.  Since 2004, we introduced that act.  It is an act that has been voted by the representatives of the people.  Mr. Ouattara’s party and the same with Mr. Bedie’s party, when they were in position, they earned, each party, around $2 million U.S. per year representing public financing, as well as the FPI of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo,” Kipre said.