It’s been 10 years since Cote d’Ivoire’s presidential elections; “… a whole lost generation since the days when Côte d’Ivoire was West Africa’s most prosperous and promising nation.” The last election cycle was postponed indefinitely by the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo (of the Front Populaire Ivorian) when his term ended in 2005. In the meantime he plunged the country into civil war (in 2002). The election will hopefully unify the country’s north and south–divided since the civil war. Expectations are that Gbagbo–who is in a three-way contest with former president Henri Konan Bedie and Alassane Ouattara, a former prime minister–will be re-elected. Quite a cast of characters: Bedie invented of “Ivorite,” a xenophobic policy aimed at excluding immigrants or those from mixed backgrounds (with parents from Burkina Faso, Mali, etc) from political life. Gbagbo never denounced the policy (its cited as a contributing factor to the 2002 northern rebellion against his regime). Only “real Ivorians” were allowed to vote. Ouattara was excluded from running for president in 2000 because he was not considered a “real Ivorian.”
* Don’t expect too much in-depth reporting in English language media about the Ivorian elections. (The latter care more about the US midterms, later this week, and the second round of Brazil’s presidential elections, also today.) Best to regularly check sites like Global Voices or AllAfrica.com. Follow the African Elections Project’s Cote d’Ivoire elections updates on Twitter. There’s also the English services of French language media like Radio France International. Finally a group of local web activists has set up a citizen reporting platform to monitor elections using the Ushahidi platform.
Credit: Cartoon by Le Monde’s Telex.