Millions of people in Ivory Coast on Saturday will cast ballots in a high-stakes election that, until recently, was seen by many as an opportunity to help usher in a new generation of leaders.

Instead, due to a series of both expected and unexpected events, voters have witnessed the rerun of an old – and increasingly tense – political drama.

The three main contenders:

 

  • Alassane Ouattara (L): 78, an economist. Became president in 2011, serving his second term after years in opposition. Party: Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP)
  • Henri Konan Bédié (C) 86, career politician. Served as president between 1993 and 1999, deposed in coup. Party: Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PCDI)
  • Pascal Affi Nguessan(R) 67, career politician. Served as prime minister between 2000 and 2003 under then-President Laurent Gbagbo. Party: Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) faction

Ivory Coast was a French colony before becoming independent in 1960. The economy is mainly agricultural with cocoa being the largest component accounting for 40% of its exports.

Although the economy has continued to grow the wealth has not filtered out across the country. Improvements have been heavily concentrated in the biggest city, Abidjan, and many feel no better off now than they were a decade ago.     

There has been unrest in the country since 1999 when the then president was overthrown in a military coup. There was then civil war in the country between 2002-2007 between the “Islamic North” and “Christian South”. In 2010 presidential elections were held. The Election commission declared Alassane Ouattara the winner of the run-off. The incumbent Mr Gbagbo refused to quit. Post-election violence left 3,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced. There has been simmering tension ever since with Mr Ouattara quashing dissent with force.

Old political rivalries spark new fears of violence in tomorrow’s election. The election commission has barred about 40 potential candidates from standing including Mr Gbagbo but has allowed Mr Outtara to stand even though there is a question over his legitimacy as he has already served the permitted two terms.

Below are three links for more information.

Please pray for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13287216

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/28/president-ouattara-runs-for-third-term-in-ivory-coast-vote

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/28/who-are-the-candidates-vying-for-ivory-coasts-presidency