Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Opposition party in Cote d'Ivoire split over participation in October's election

Former Ivory Coast prime minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan, leader of Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo's party, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Abidjan August 14, 2015.
Reuters wrote about Cote d'Ivoire's upcoming election again today.  As expected, President Ouattara's main opposition candidate is Pascal Affi N'Guessan of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the party of Laurent Gbagbo, which didn't hold an election in 2005 because of the civil war over disenfranchising the north by banning candidates such as Ouattara. In 2010 when the election was finally held, most agree that the FPI attempted to steal the election won by Ouattara (more on that below).

Since Ouattara took the presidency in 2011 (after a second civil war caused by Gbagbo and the FPI refusing to recognize Ouattara's electoral victory), the FPI has been boycotting elections, which has only resulted in Ouattara and his party dominating the legislature. Oattara's leadership is going well for the country -- GDP has been growing at 9% annually for three years -- so the FPI's boycott seems to be hurting no-one but themselves.

N'Guessan has come to the same conclusion. "We cannot remain eternally absent from political competition or we risk disappearing," the 62-year-old N'Guessan told Reuters. "If a party doesn't participate in elections, it has no reason to exist," he told Reuters.

But some of his compatriots in the FPI don't agree. A faction led by former foreign minister Aboudramane Sangare are part of the National Coalition for Change (CNC) that is threatening to boycott the election. A spokesman for this faction that sees N'Guessan as Ouattara's strawman describes Ouattara's election in 2010 as a "coup d'etat."

He's right, there was a coup d'etat in 2010. But Encyclopedia Brittanica (and most international observers) would disagree with the FPI about who launched that (auto)coup:

... on Dec. 2, 2010, the country’s electoral commission declared that Ouattara won the election with 54 percent of the vote, but the Constitutional Council quickly contested the results because they were not released in accordance with the established deadline. The next day the Constitutional Council, citing evidence of numerous irregularities, discounted a portion of the results. It then declared Gbagbo to be the winner, with 51 percent of the vote. Most of the international community, including the UN, maintained that Ouattara was the rightful winner. Nevertheless, Gbagbo, who had the support of the country’s military and top levels of government, was sworn in for another term as president ...

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