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Ivory Coast Opposition Demands Reinstatement of Electoral Commission

Kandia Kamara of the Rally of the Republicans party says the opposition will not join the new government until the commission is reconstituted

Ivory Coast's opposition has said it will not join a newly-formed government until the recently-dissolved independent electoral commission is reconstituted.

Prime Minister Guillaume Soro announced a new government on Tuesday in a move aimed at ending the political crisis sparked by President Laurent Gbagbo's decision earlier this month to dissolve both the government and the electoral commission.

Kandia Kamara, a member in opposition leader Alassane Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans party said the opposition wants to have elections as soon as possible.

“Right now we are not in this government; we are not in the cabinet because we are seeking for election commission first. If we have an election commission, then we’re going to see if we should go to this cabinet or not,” she said.

Alassanbe Ouattara and Konan Bedie
Alassanbe Ouattara and Konan Bedie

On Tuesday, Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, who has been mediating the Ivory Coast crisis, said the political parties consented to a new electoral calendar that calls for presidential elections in late April or early May.

Kamara said Ivorians have been talking about elections for a long time and can wait no longer.

“Since 2005 up to now, every year we say that we’re going to have elections but then no elections. And in December at Ouagadougou all the leaders agreed to have the elections at the end of February or the beginning of March. Up till now we have not seen anything. The country cannot stay like that without elections,” Kamara said.

She said members of the opposition would demand to be included in any reconstituted independent electoral commission.

“It was decided a few years that the 10 parties who went to Marcoussis (2003) will have their representatives on the commission. So we have to be in this commission and I hope tomorrow (Thursday) we’re going to have the commission with the 10 parties in it.” Kamara said.

Kamara said Prime Minister Guillaume Soro has assured the opposition that a new electoral commission would be announced as early as Thursday, February 25.

She said the opposition is ready for an election.

“It has been a long time waiting for that; so we are ready and Ivory Coast needs this election this year. Not in five months, not in six months, next month or the month after,” Kamara said.

Kamara said all major opposition parties will contest the first round of the elections individually but hope to unite in the event of a runoff.

“We are all united as you can notice. But of course as we decided, every party will have its own candidate. We are united for the first round. But if we have a second round, of course we’re going to be together for only one candidate for the opposition,” Kamara said.