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Ivory Coast Votes Sunday

  • Peter Clottey

A man walks past an election poster for incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, as presidential campaigning kicked off Friday, Oct. 15, 2010 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast has endured eight years of civil war, and a date for elections has been set and m

A campaign manager for incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo said Sunday’s election marks the first step towards the reconstruction of Ivory Coast after years of instability due to the civil war which ended after a peace agreement in 2007.

The war divided the country into a rebel-controlled north and government-run south.

Charles Druid said Ivorians are ready to vote in an election which has been postponed on several occasions due to sharp disagreements between the government and the opposition.

“I think we are ready. This is way overdue…And so it’s been five years overdue and of course we are all ready as citizens of the Ivory Coast; we want our country to get out of this no peace no war type of situation. We are looking forward to getting out completely of this process for whoever is elected to run the country.”

Three prominent politicians are running in the election that was first scheduled five years ago, but postponed repeatedly by disputes over voter eligibility and turmoil stemming from a 2002 civil war.

President Laurent Gbagbo is being challenged in the poll by a former president Henri Konan Bedie and a former prime minister Alassane Ouattara.

In an interview with VOA, campaign manager Druid predicted that Ivory Coast nationals will re-elect incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo in Sunday’s vote.

He expressed hope that the country’s security agencies will maintain the peace during and after Sunday’s election.

“We do have some concerns. Of course we are coming out of a war. We are coming out of a crisis that has lasted for eight years now…There would be a few former rebels that might not necessarily agree with how the process is going. So, there are reasons to be somewhat concerned. But, I’m optimistic and the president is also optimistic… that this process will go smoothly.”

Security forces and election observers are positioning themselves to monitor Sunday's long-delayed presidential election in Ivory Coast.

The Ivorian military plans to deploy thousands of soldiers around the country to maintain peace and security.

About 8,000 United Nations peacekeepers and several hundred French troops are also available in case of unrest. The European Union has 32 election observers in place, while more than 30 civil society groups also plan to observe.

Ivorian military chief of staff Philippe Mangou warned on Wednesday that anyone who tries to disrupt the vote will be thwarted. He said the country's borders and the airport in Abidjan will be closed.

The presidential vote will be the country's first in a decade.