A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said the regional bloc has sent a 200-member poll observer team to monitor Sunday’s general election in Ivory Coast.
Sonny Ugoh, communications director of the regional bloc said ECOWAS is working closely with the Ivory Coast’s independent electoral commission to ensure a credible vote.
“We have an observer team on the ground that is going to be deployed in all parts of Cote d’Ivoire so that we can make an assessment of the preparations and make an assessment of the process and make recommendations when necessary on the basis of the conduct of the election,” he said.
Security forces and election observers are positioning themselves to also monitor Sunday's long-delayed presidential election.
Three prominent politicians are running in the election that was first scheduled five years ago, but postponed repeatedly by disputes over voter eligibility and turmoil stemming from a 2002 civil war.
President Laurent Gbagbo is being challenged in the poll by a former president, Henri Konan Bedie, and a former prime minister, Alassane Ouattara.
The Ivorian military plans to deploy thousands of soldiers around the country to maintain peace and security.
“The kind of engagement we’ve had with the government and the people…there would be no reason to fear. We believe that the government will discharge its responsibility to protect life and property. And we believe that there would be a secure environment for people to vote. There is no indication that there would be trouble,” said ECOWAS communications director Ugoh.
Ivorian military chief of staff Philippe Mangou warned Wednesday that anyone who tries to disrupt the vote would be thwarted. He said the country's borders and the airport in Abidjan will be closed. The presidential vote will be the country's first in a decade.
ECOWAS official Ugoh said Sunday’s election will be part of the regional bloc’s aim of entrenching democracy in the West African sub-region.