News / Africa

Voters in Ivory Coast's Western Region Cautiously Await Election Results

Election officials start counting ballots in first round of presidential elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 31 Oct. 2010.
Election officials start counting ballots in first round of presidential elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 31 Oct. 2010.

Voting in Ivory Coast's volatile western region was peaceful on Sunday, despite concerns that local militias or candidate supporters might disrupt the presidential poll.  In Guiglo, security forces and local residents remain on alert as votes are counted and results are announced.

After five years of repeated delays, Ivorians went to the polls for their first presidential election since the start of a rebel insurgency in 2002 that split the country between the government-held south and the rebel-held north.

Powder keg?

The Moyen-Cavally region was a focal point of the western conflict.  Local militias fought on the side of government troops.  Rebels in the north as well as militias in the west and south of the country have yet to disarm or reintegrate into the army.

Candidate and president, Laurent Gbagbo, who is running on behalf of the Presidential Majority, is said to have strong support in Moyen-Cavally.  

Violence involving militias and youth groups close to the president has broken out repeatedly in Guiglo, including in January 2006, when armed protesters stormed the base of United Nations peacekeepers, forcing them out of the city.

One resident calls Guiglo "a powder keg."

The teacher, who asks not to be named, says that when they announce provisional results for Sunday's vote, if Mr. Gbagbo is not one of the two front-runners, the situation will become even more tense in Guiglo.

Fear of violence

Residents say they fear that youth leaders unhappy with provisional results could take to the streets in violent protests.

Last week, supporters of opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara and those of President Gbagbo clashed in Guiglo, preventing the opposition candidate from attending a campaign rally.

Both campaigns say it was an isolated incident that was quickly resolved.  But residents say it reflects volatility in the region.

Polling stations in Guiglo and surrounding villages were patrolled on Sunday by Ivorian security forces supported by U.N. peacekeepers.

Lawlessness

In a report released last month, Human Rights Watch said the country's far western regions, including Moyen-Cavally, are characterized by a breakdown of the rule of law and that armed, masked bandits continue to assault, rob and rape local residents with impunity.

The international human rights monitoring group says the lawlessness has its roots in the Ivory Coast conflict and subsequent failed disarmament in the West.

International Crisis Group West Africa analyst Rinaldo DePagne says the situation in the western part of the country is complicated by its proximity to Liberia.

In Moyen-Cavally, Depagne says, there still are many people who have not been disarmed.

The militias, however, say they have disarmed and that they are awaiting government assistance to reintegrate into civilian life.

General Glofiei Maho, who was one of the militia leaders in Moyen-Cavally, says his group laid down thousands of weapons three years ago, as part of peace agreements.

Maho says the militias disarmed and no longer exist.  But, he says, that does not mean that individuals cannot still rise up of their own and cause problems.  Maho, who is also the traditional  chief of the We ethnic group in the region, says he called for calm during the voting process.

Fragile times

As the polls closed Sunday evening in Guiglo, Eric Diabate, 18, said he did not think there would be problems, but he understood peoples' concerns.

Diabate says it is a fragile time, so tensions exist and people are worried.  Diabate says people heard rumors they would be attacked or prevented from voting, but there was no violence.  Still, he says, people will be worried until the results are announced.

Ivory Coast's electoral commission has until Wednesday to announce provisional results.

You May Like

Video 2nd American Reportedly Killed in Syria

Minnesota television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid