The opposition in Côte d’Ivoire announced this Sunday that it does not grant any legitimacy to the presidential elections held the previous day and has called for the creation of a transitional government to organize new elections. The election day on Saturday, in which at least five people died according to official sources collected by Reuters, and a dozen according to the opposition, was marked by violent incidents and the call for a boycott of the two main rival candidates of current president Alassane Ouattara, who was opting for a third term despite being prohibited by the Constitution.
“This electoral coup has been a failure. The Ivorian people have managed to make these elections fail ”, one of those rivals, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, assured the media this Sunday, who estimated the turnout at just 10% as a result of the boycott promoted by the opposition. “We do not recognize these elections and we note the end of the mandate of President Alassane Ouattara this October 31,” added the leader of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), who also urged the international community to support the creation of a government civilian transition to new “fair, inclusive and transparent” elections. In addition, he called for the mobilization of his militants to “face the dictatorship.”
For his part, President Ouattara called for “peace and calm” after exercising his right to vote this Saturday. “I appeal to those who launched the slogan of civil disobedience that has caused the death of men: stop! I ask young people not to allow themselves to be manipulated, ”said the 78-year-old veteran leader, referring to Affi N’Guessan and Henri Konan Bédié, leader of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI). The electoral commission, which has a five-day deadline to announce the results, has begun to provide the first provisional data this Sunday and Ouattara obtains a wide advantage in the first 20 departments surveyed out of a total of 108.
The elections were peppered with incidents. In Daoukro, the stronghold of the opposition Bédié, potential voters found barricades on Saturday that prevented the passage to polling stations. The same situation was experienced in other cities in the south and east of the country. In Yopougon, a popular neighborhood in Abidjan, there were serious clashes between supporters of power and the opposition, although most of the schools opened without problems in the economic capital thanks to a strong police deployment. “The popular will has been able to express itself despite the fact that the opposition has for months made an apology for not holding these elections,” said Adama Bictogo, a member of the party in power, according to France Press.
The NGO Initiative for Dialogue and Research-Action for Peace, which deployed electoral observers, has been very critical of the development of the elections. “23% of the schools were closed all day,” said Arsène Konan, coordinator of this organization, who has denounced the existence of 391 serious incidents, such as barricades, threats, attacks and attacks on agents and voting centers. For its part, the electoral surveillance cell of the Network for the Construction of Peace in West Africa, a civil society organization, found numerous “problems and dysfunctionalities” during the elections, such as the attempt to fill the ballot boxes in various locations.
Alassane Ouattara’s decision to stand in these elections for a third term, which she announced on August 6 through a televised speech, has once again plunged this African country into a serious political and institutional crisis that has caused at least 35 dead since. Although the Constitution prohibits this possibility, the reform of the Magna Carta promoted by Ouattara himself enables him by putting the command counter to zero. Despite this, the Ivorian president has defended at all times that he was forced to appear by the sudden death in July of his prime minister and dolphin, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who had already been proclaimed a candidate for his party, the Houphouëtista Group for Democracy and Peace (RHDP).
However, both Bédié and Affi N’Guessan considered Ouattara’s candidacy to be illegal and as election day approached they were raising the tone against an election for which they called for a boycott. From France, the former Prime Minister and President of Parliament Guillaume Soro, whose candidacy was rejected by the Constitutional Court, joined the campaign of civil disobedience launched by the opposition. Just two days before the appointment with the polls, former president Laurent Gbagbo gave an interview to TV5 Monde in which he asked for dialogue. “Peace is threatened,” he said, “what is coming is a catastrophe.”