News / Africa

Ivory Coast Coalition Partners Contest Local Elections

A girl stands next to a campaign poster of Cisse Ibrahima "Bacongo," a candidate for the municipal elections, on April 19, 2013 in Abidjan, two days ahead of the vote.
A girl stands next to a campaign poster of Cisse Ibrahima "Bacongo," a candidate for the municipal elections, on April 19, 2013 in Abidjan, two days ahead of the vote.
Ivory Coast is holding local elections Sunday, marking the first time the government has organized a vote since a disputed presidential contest in 2010 plunged the country into violence. The party of former president Laurent Gbagbo has decided to boycott, turning the race into a showdown between parties in the current governing coalition.

In front of a pharmacy at a busy intersection in Abidjan’s Yopougon district, women sing as they await the start of a rally on the final day of campaigning before Sunday’s vote. They are supporters of Kafana Kone, a former government minister who is one of 659 candidates on the ballot for municipal positions. An additional 84 people are running for regional positions.

The elections represent the last phase of a cycle that began in 2010 with a disputed presidential vote that brought the West African nation to the brink of civil war. The United Nations estimates that at least 3,000 people died in five months of fighting after former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to the winner, current President Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo’s political party, the Ivorian Popular Front, boycotted U.N.-organized legislative elections that were held in late 2011, and it is also boycotting the local elections Sunday. But Kone told VOA he did not think this would render the process illegitimate.

He says, “Legitimacy doesn’t come from the political actors. Legitimacy comes from the people. The fact that an actor doesn’t participate, that doesn’t mean that development stops.”

With the FPI out of the running, the race is a showdown between President Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party and the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, headed by former president Henri Konan Bedie. Bedie’s support helped Ouattara win the 2010 election, and the PDCI is a member of the governing coalition.

A dispute between lawmakers from the two parties was blamed for President Ouattara’s decision to dissolve his Cabinet back in November. But Rinaldo Depagne, senior West Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group, said both parties had an interest in keeping the coalition intact. 

He also said that for this election, most issues that might showcase differences between the two camps - including how to resolve longstanding land conflicts in the west - were not part of the debate in the run-up to the vote

"They need each other to rule. The RDR can’t rule, nobody can rule in this country without the support of another big party. They are obliged to live together. And so far, the big issues are not on the table," he said.

The country’s U.N. peacekeeping mission said Friday that the campaign had been one of “animated discussions,” but that there had been some “regrettable incidents,” including acts of intimidation. The chief spokesman for Ouattara’s RDR party also warned earlier in the week of “increasing tension.” 

In Yopougon, however, voters said the atmosphere was hardly combative. Thirty-six-year-old Juvenal Coulibaly, who trades electronic devices in the district, said the FPI’s decision to boycott had lowered tension considerably.

"This is an election between two brothers," he said. "If the FPI were participating, it would be a real election with a charged atmosphere, but the two parties that are here are brothers, so it’s not a real battle."

Municipal elections in Ivory Coast were last held in 2001, while regional elections were last held in 2002.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs