News / Africa

Despite Boycotts, Hopes High for Parliamentary Vote in Ivory Coast

A cyclist rides past a campaign poster of candidates of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast in Abidjan December 6, 2011. The slogan on the poster reads "Experience and youth at your service."
A cyclist rides past a campaign poster of candidates of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast in Abidjan December 6, 2011. The slogan on the poster reads "Experience and youth at your service."

On Sunday, Ivory Coast will vote in its first parliamentary elections since 2000, when former President Laurent Gbagbo first took power. Six months after his ouster, there is still the threat of violence but most Ivorians are looking to return to peace and prosperity.

In what is being called "the election to exit the crisis," President Alassane Ouattara's Democratic Party is poised to win the majority of the 255 parliament seats up for grabs.  The Election Commission says almost 1,000 candidates are vying for those 255 seats.

With Gbagbo awaiting an International Criminal Court hearing in the Netherlands, some of his supporters have called for a boycott of the elections. This increases the Democratic Party's electoral odds, but also the threat of violence. On Wednesday, Ivory Coast officials say three people were killed and three wounded when a rocket was fired into a residential courtyard in the Grand Lahou region just before an election rally of supporters of President Ouattara.

Step toward reconciliation

At a press conference in Abidjan on Friday Bert Koenders, chief of the United Nations Operation in Côte I'voire (UNOCI), said the challenges are not as great as the opportunities.

Koenders says legislative elections have to be an important step towards national reconciliation. He says it is possible and will be a path to economic and social development in Ivory Coast, and it will be the priority after the elections.

Still, the Electoral Commission and its partners have taken extensive measures to ensure fairness and security. According to the UNOCI, there are over 150 international election observers. They join the Ivorian military and about 3,000 national observers, which is the same number killed in the country in the violence following last year's presidential election.

Koenders says they have made a very precise and detailed security plan that will comfort voters. He says that they have also conducted a thorough investigation into the country's problems and are aware of the problematic areas.

Chris Hennemeyer is a consultant for International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which provides technical support to the Electoral Commission. He believes any violence will be isolated and the biggest problems of the vote in the post-conflict country will be logistical.

"That's my concern, that all ballots and candidate lists and voting equipment is where it needs to be when polls open at 7:00 tomorrow morning," said Hennemeyer.

With hundreds of candidates running, it is a large undertaking for any government, especially one as young and tenuous as President Ouattara's. But Hennemeyer says the government is fortunate to have a population eager to return to its former economic and social standing.

"The Ivorians have really impressed me with how quickly they've gotten back to some semblance of normalcy here," he said. "I was here in July and the country was still a little bit tense. That's largely disappeared now. People have gotten back to work, back to business, and that's a good sign."

Hennemeyer added that the country still has a long way to go and many of its political problems will not be resolved by this election.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid