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Presidential Adviser Expects Ivory Coast Election Date Soon

  • Peter Clottey

Director of Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Soro's Cabinet Paul Koffi (L) and president of Ivory Coast's Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) Youssouf Bakayoko (R) present the new provisional electoral list ahead of national elections in Abidjan, 12 Jul 20

A special adviser to Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo told VOA an election date will soon be announced, a day before the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) said it will publish the provisional voter register list Thursday.

Lambert Bahi Serry said the “re-unification” of the country, among other benchmarks, needs to be met under the Lome Peace Accord before credible elections can be held this year.

“The president, as you know, is the one who needs the elections so that he can have the full control of the state apparatus, and be able to implement the program on which the Ivorian people had elected him in the first place in 2002, and will re-elect him in the coming election,” he said.

Serry also said that President Gbagbo is confident that the electoral commission is on the right track after the electoral body announced it will be publishing the provisional voter register list.

CEI announced it has expanded the provisional voter list from 5.3 million people to an estimated 5.8 million including 490,000 voters who were said to be too young to vote in the last election held in 2000.

Analysts have said the electoral process was derailed after President Gbagbo dissolved the electoral commission after he accused its former chairman of illegally adding names to the register.

Presidential adviser Serry warned that it will not automatically follow that the publication of the provisional voter list will lead to the much anticipated election.

“What people need to understand is that just because you have the voters list, a good one or a proper one, that the elections can be held. There are other tasks that need to be completed before the elections (can) be held. And, one of them is the DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reinsertion of rebels). As you know, these tasks have not been completed yet,” Serry said.

Observers say the presidential vote is pivotal to restoring peace and security, as well as foreign direct investment to the country since the last election was held in 2000 before the civil war divided the West African nation.

Elections were initially scheduled for 2005, but sharp disagreements over the disarmament of rebels, as well as voter identity, led to the delays.

Several opposition groups accused President Gbagbo of deliberately derailing the electoral process after he recently dissolved the electoral commission claiming its former chairman illegally added names to the voter register.

Presidential adviser Serry said there is a need for all the political parties to work together to ensure the election is acceptable.

“If all the parties agree that we must have elections, then that means all the requirements must be fulfilled before these elections are held. So, everybody will work together so that the DDR, the re-unification of the country, the re-deployment of the administration, all these (need) to be accomplished before we can have the elections,” Serry said.