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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid