ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST - Campaigning began Friday in Ivory Coast ahead of a crucial presidential election on October 25. No one is expecting a repeat of the 2009-2010 post-election conflict, but things are getting off to a tense start. Only four of the 10 candidates agreed to sign a code of good conduct this week.
Ivory Coast's president, Alassane Ouattara, symbolically chose Yamoussoukro, the hometown of the country's popular first president, to kick off his electoral campaign.
Ouattara is running for his second five-year term and is widely seen as the frontrunner in the election planned for October 25.
The poll is crucial for the country, as post-election violence in 2010 killed more than 3,000 people.
Earlier this week, presidential candidates were invited to sign a code of good conduct prepared by an American NGO, the National Democratic Institute. One of the speakers. Mariam Dao-Gabala, read it out.
"The signatories pledge to raise awareness among their supporters of the code of good conduct and on the necessity to use dialogue and all peaceful and legal means in order to settle their disagreements," she says.
But only four of the 10 candidates approved by the constitutional court showed up to sign that pledge.
On the same day, on the other side of Abidjan, the opposition coalition known as CNC was holding a meeting and insisting, as it has done for weeks, that conditions are not right for a free and fair election.
On Thursday, CNC spokesperson Jean-Jacques Béchio repeated that claim.
He said the independent electoral commission is only independent in name and that there is nothing wrong in asking for its dissolution in order to re-compose a new, fair commission.
The CNC says the commission is biased in favor of President Ouattara and that basic security conditions have not been met. The opposition coalition has said it may boycott the election if no changes are made.
A few days ago, one of the candidates, Amara Essy, suspended his participation to the poll for the same reasons.
The electoral campaign is due to last until October 23, two days prior to the first round of the election.