Voters nervous ahead of runoff election
Rarely has a country postponed its presidential elections as often as has Cote d’Ivoire.
Scheduled votes were delayed six times since 2005. But the latest, long-awaited presidential election in Cote d'Ivoire finally took place on October 31, 2010.
Since no candidate reached the required 50% threshold, a second, runoff round was first scheduled for November 21, but has once again been postponed till November 28.
Despite yet another delay, Ivorians anxiously hope that this second round of presidential elections could end a decade of political and military crises that have exhausted the country and weakened faith in Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo (pictured above).
When Gbagbo assumed power in 2000 following a coup, the country’s long period of instability allowed Gbagbo to assume a second term from 2005 to 2010 without going to the polls.
Writing in The Express, Pierre Sérisier and Pascal Liétout allege that Gbabgo viewed his position as the head of State as a “gift of mandate”. They allege that Gbagbo deliberately delayed the electoral process between 2005 and 2010 out of fear he would be ousted at the ballot.
Of course, Gbabgo rejected the charges. He instead accused Robert Beugre Mambe, a leader of the opposition and head of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), of illegally adding names on registration lists. Gbagbo dissolved the Electoral Commission in retaliation in February 2010.
The parties managed to find common ground in August 2010, and agreed to undertake the long-awaited presidential election.
The three leading contenders were, Laurent Gbagbo, the outgoing president from the FPI (Ivorian Popular Front), Henri Konan Bédié, president of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI) and Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the president of the Republican Rally party (RDR).
At 76 years of age, Bédié is trying to regain the seat from which he was ousted in 1999 by the first coup of the country's history.
RDR candidate Alassane Ouattara is also campaigning to repair what he sees as an injustice against him. Ouattara was barred from running in the polls in 2000 and charged with "dubious nationality". He became a symbol of the heartbreak of the Ivorian identity.