A man looks at a board with newspapers in Abidjan yesterday, a day after the country’s presidential elections.
Election observers yesterday gave Ivory Coast’s presidential vote a clean bill of health and early estimates put participation at a healthy 60%, allaying fears poor turnout would mar the expected re-election of President Alassane Ouattara.
The late arrival of materials led the Independent Elections Commission (CEI) to extend voting in some polling stations by two hours on Sunday. Many of the computer tablets used to verify voters identities failed during the day.
However POECI, an Ivorian civil society organisation that received backing from the Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), said it did not expect the problems to affect the results of the election.
“Yesterday on voting day, there was dysfunction here and there, but it wasn’t of a kind to really discredit the process,” said Drissa Soulama, coordinator for POECI’s parallel vote count.
“So for us, the process was free and fair.”
Election observers and diplomats said Sunday’s vote, which is crucial to reassuring investors and turning the page on Ivory Coast’s violent political past, was held without major incident.
Ouattara, who has led the West African nation to an economic revival in the wake of a decade-long crisis and a brief 2011 civil war, is heavily favoured to win a second five-year term. The vice-president of the Independent Electoral Commission, Sorou Kone, told reporters that the initial turnout estimate was 60%, though the figure would be refined as results gradually came in.
Bertin Konan Kouadio, one of the six candidates seeking to unseat Ouattara, claimed that the process had been tainted by irregularities, including foreigners who had been caught attempting to vote.
“I warn Ouattara: he won’t do to me what he has done to my predecessors and my elders; he won’t succeed in stealing my victory,” the candidate told journalists after casting his ballot.
Another candidate, Simeon Konan Kouadio, said his campaign had been informed of massive fraud during the election.
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