Cote D'ivoire: Cote d'Ivoire Votes: Elections Peaceful But Turnout Looks Minimal

Last Updated: 25 December 2016
Article by Kobi Annan

Parliamentary elections took place in Cote d'Ivoire yesterday after a very brief but intense six-day campaign period. The elections were much anticipated as they were the first elections to include a significant opposition representation since the end of the unrest that took over the country in 2011. 1337 candidates were competing for 255 seats across 205 constituencies.

  • Voting appears to have been carried out in a peaceful and transparent manner with one government minister praising the inclusiveness and transparency of the process.1 However, reports have been coming in of 21 boxes stuffed with ballots being found next to a lagoon,2 the convoy of an independent candidate being attacked in Abidjan3 and of ballot boxes being destroyed.4 The main domestic observation group, POECI, released a statement saying that many of its observers had been threatened with expulsion from polling stations during the counting process with others being asked to leave and then to return shortly afterwards.5
  • One faction of the opposition Front Populair Ivoirien (FPI) (the pro-Gbagbo faction that is not taking part in these elections), has predicted that turnout will be as low as 12%. They attribute this to attacks against opposition candidates and the intimidation of their supporters by the ruling coalition Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la démocratie et la paix (RHDP).6 When speaking to a Songhai Analyst, one young Ivorian voter put the disappointing showing down to "the divisions within the FPI, that means people already know who will win the elections."
  • Although not yet confirmed, some of the early results coming in are showing that a number of key allies of President Ouattara may have lost their parliamentary seats. Key amongst these is current Prime Minister, Daniel Duncan. Other ministers said to have lost their seats are: Maurice Guikahue, former Minister of Health and current Secretary General of Parti Democratique de la Cote d'Ivoire), Kobenan Adjoumani (Minister of Animals and Fisheries) and Remi Allah-Kouadio (Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development).7

Outlook
The CEI is slowly beginning to release results from some constituencies but it is as yet unclear when final results will be declared. It is likely that it will be quite soon due to the low voter turnout. While the CEI declared that it is the only institution that is mandated to release official results8, some observation groups have been carrying out parallel vote tabulation (PVT) and are likely to begin releasing their findings and results soon.

From the outset of this electoral process, it has been relatively clear that the ruling RHDP will win a comfortable majority in the National Assembly. While this is still the case, it seems that independent candidates will outperform expectations (they previously held 35 seats in the National Assembly). Many of these independents are members of the PDCI (part of the RHDP alliance) who were unable to represent their party due to the imposition of candidates on the PDCI by President Ouattara and his dominant RDR party. The way in which they were ousted is likely to determine whether these independent candidates will remain loyal to the party when elected to the National Assembly. In terms of internal party cohesion, the situation is not much better within the opposition FPI which is currently in disarray. The internal fissures probably means that the party may not reach the upper limits of its desired 30-50 seats.

Whilst the relatively peaceful and more inclusive nature of these elections is a great step forward for the political growth of the country, the suggestion of an exceptionally poor turnout is a very worrying factor. Many young people spoken to by the press expressed little interest in the political process as they have little faith in both the institutions and the people that govern them.

Footnotes

1 http://news.abidjan.net/h/606366.html

2 http://news.abidjan.net/h/606351.html

3 http://news.abidjan.net/h/606351.html

4 http://news.abidjan.net/h/606339.html

5 https://poeci-elections.org/interdiction-aux-observateurs-poeci-dobserver-les-operations-de-vote-et-le-depouillement/

6 http://news.abidjan.net/h/606357.html

7 http://abidjantv.net/actualites/cote-divoire-legislativesle-premier-ministre-duncan-tombe-ludpci-de-mabri-perce-au-dela-de-sa-zonerafle-tout/

8 https://poeci-elections.org/interdiction-aux-observateurs-poeci-dobserver-les-operations-de-vote-et-le-depouillement/

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