News ID: 276182
Published: 0444 GMT October 31, 2020

Ivory Coast votes for president in test of political stability

Ivory Coast votes for president in test of political stability
People wait for the opening of a polling office during theI presidential election in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on October 31, 2020.

Ivory Coast citizens went to the polls on Saturday even as some opposition supporters tried to disrupt the vote, heeding a call from two rival candidates of President Alassane Ouattara for a boycott over his bid for a third term.

The streets of the commercial capital Abidjan were quiet and largely empty, in contrast to the sometimes violent run-up to the election, according to Reuters.

The vote is seen as a test of stability in Ivory Coast, which is the worlds top cocoa producer and has one of Africas fastest-growing economies.

Voting went smoothly with orderly lines at polling stations in a number of districts, Reuters witnesses said.

But in the citys Blockhauss neighborhood, around 20 young men blocked the entrance to a school, preventing would-be voters from entering until police dispersed the group.

It was not immediately clear if significant numbers were not participating in the vote or how the call for a boycott was playing out in the rest of the country.

Election-linked street clashes have killed 30 people since August and brought back memories of the 2010 election, which Ouattara won but which unleashed a brief civil war that killed 3,000 people when his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down.

The recent violence has pitted the 78-year-old presidents supporters against those of his opponents. Ouattaras critics say he is breaking the law by running again because the constitution limits presidents to two terms, and is jeopardizing the countrys hard-earned economic gains.

Ouattara says he can run again under a new constitution approved in 2016, and is doing so only because his handpicked successor died unexpectedly in July. He is seen as likely to win.

Ouattaras two main rivals – a former president, Henri Konan Bedie, and a former prime minister, Pascal Affi NGuessan — have called for an election boycott. Affi NGuessan has told supporters to blockade polling places.

The government has said it has deployed 35,000 soldiers and police officers for election day.

Critics call Ouattaras candidacy a new blow to West African democracy following a military coup in Mali in August and a successful third-term bid this month by the president of Guinea, Alpha Conde.



Resource: Reuters
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