News / Africa

    Ivory Coast Presidential Campaigns About to Get Underway

    Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro (R) speaks during a meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo (2ndL) and party leaders at the presidential palace in Abidjan ahead of a presidential poll on October 31, 2010,  06 Sep 2010
    Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro (R) speaks during a meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo (2ndL) and party leaders at the presidential palace in Abidjan ahead of a presidential poll on October 31, 2010, 06 Sep 2010
    Anne Look

    As candidates in Ivory Coast prepare to launch their official campaigns Friday, election observers say a lot remains to be done to get the country ready to hold its long-delayed presidential poll on October 31.

    Ivory Coast looks closer than ever to holding a presidential poll that has already been pushed back six times in the past five years.

    Though official campaigning does not kick off until Friday, many of the 14 presidential candidates have already begun addressing crowds at rallies around the country.

    In Abidjan this weekend, current president and candidate, Laurent Gbagbo tells a crowd that he is asking for their votes to rebuild Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast has stumbled, he says, but its head did not touch the ground.

    The election is meant to bring an end to nearly a decade of political crisis after a 2002 civil war split the country between north and south.

    With less than three weeks to go, Ivory Coast's electoral commission says preparations are moving forward and it will be ready for the poll on October 31.

    Sabina Vigani is the Ivory Coast country director for the American-based Carter Center, which has been on the ground in Ivory Coast for the past two years and has already deployed 10 long-term election observers around the country.  

    Vigani says the timeline for holding elections on the 31 is tight. A lot of work is still underway, but she says the authorities have demonstrated a strong political will to do everything they can to respect that date. She says a lot of funding has been mobilized, particularly from the international community. Still, in the weeks ahead, she says there is a lot to be done.

    Ivory Coast is still in the process of recruiting and training the more than 60,000 polling agents it will need on October 31.  

    The Carter Center's Vigani says well-trained voting staff are vital to a peaceful and successful vote.

    She says on voting day, poor management of polling stations could create tension and delays in the voting process. To ensure qualified personnel, she says Ivorian authorities are in the process of recruiting polling staff from among civil servants, including teachers and state health and environmental workers.

    The questions of "who is Ivorian" and "who can vote" were at the heart of the 2002-2003 civil war, and Ivory Coast overcame a persistent electoral hurdle last month with the publication of a definitive voter list containing more than 5.7 million names.

    Electoral authorities began distributing electoral and identity cards to voters in Abidjan last week, but Vigani says progress in the rest of the country has been slow.

    She says Bouake, the main rebel town in the north, is the only place outside Abidjan where cards are currently being distributed. In many regions, she says voter and ID cards have arrived but distribution staff must finish their training before they can begin handing them out. She says distribution is gradually spreading throughout the country, and by the end of the week voters in regional centers and the more urban areas should begin receiving their cards.

    Voters, she said, will also be able to pick up their cards on election day.

    The United Nations Operation to Ivory Coast is assisting Ivorian authorities with logistical preparations of the poll, including transporting voter materials to polling stations.

    Last week, the U.N. began deploying an additional 500 peacekeepers to Ivory Coast to support the 8000-soldier Ivorian force that will be responsible for security during the election. According to Ouagadougou peace accords, half of those 8000 soldiers will come from government troops and the other half from the former rebel factions in the north.

    Jean-Pierre Pallasset is commander of the French military operation in Ivory Coast, called the Force Licorne, that is training the Ivorian electoral security force.

    Pallasset says it is essential that the soldiers be able to remain calm to inspire confidence and show Ivorians that they are ready no matter what happens. He says they need to be able to assess situations and take initiative while at the same time remaining disciplined. He says they need to learn, for example, that a large crowd is not necessarily hostile.

    The country's rebel factions in the north were set to be disarmed before the poll, but instead rebel leaders say their forces will be confined to barracks for the vote.

    The Carter Center's Vigani says a lot remains to be done with regards to both the former rebels in the north and the pro-government militias in south, but she says authorities are aware of the risks, which will hopefully help prevent problems. She says people are particularly alert and know that certain issues will not be resolved until after the vote.

    Though not a cure-all, she said, a successful poll would open the way for a true reunification of the country.

    You May Like

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.