Politics, West Africa general news, West Africa news

(NYT): Africa: Alassane Ouattara Is Re-elected President of Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Alassane Ouattara has been re-elected to a second term as the president of Ivory Coast, in the first peaceful presidential election in the country in more than two decades. The provisional results of the Sunday election, announced by the Independent Electoral Commission on Wednesday morning, declared Mr. Ouattara the winner, with 83.7 percent of the 3.1 million votes counted.

Mr. Ouattara, 73, an American-trained economist and a former top official at the International Monetary Fund, has managed to guide an economic recovery with growth rates surpassing 8 percent. His challenge will be to sustain such growth, and spread it evenly across all regions, as he tries to reconcile this still-divided nation.

Starting in 2000, civil war and violence tore Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, into two factions, culminating in bloody clashes that left 3,000 people dead in 2011, after President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down to let Mr. Ouattara succeed him. It took an international military intervention to remove Mr. Gbagbo, who faces trial before the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges relating to the 2011 violence.



President Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, center, after voting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Sunday. Mr. Ouattara, an American-trained economist, was re-elected. Credit Sevi Herve Gbekide/Associated Press

On Sunday, the voting was peaceful, with only a few organizational glitches. Some polling stations were delayed in opening (by as much as five hours), and about one-third of fingerprint-reading voting tablets, which were distributed to help prevent fraud, were declared faulty. Voting hours had to be extended to 7 p.m.

Turnout was around 54 percent, the electoral commission said. The participation rate had become a significant question, after opposition leaders called for a boycott to protest what they termed an “electoral masquerade.”

Pascal Affi N’Guessan, the candidate for the former governing party, the Ivorian Popular Front, which Mr. Gbagbo founded, came in second, with 9.3 percent.

Mr. N’Guessan had criticized the handling of the election, saying that up to three million new voters had been excluded from participating because the voter lists were frozen during the 2011 violence. Two other opposition candidates, Essy Amara and Mamadou Koulibaly, pulled out of the race to protest what they called a lack of fairness in the electoral process.

Many observers have already begun to look ahead anxiously to the next elections, scheduled for 2020, as there is no clear successor to Mr. Ouattara, who will not be able to seek a third term. The Ivorian Constitution provides for a two-term limit, and moreover, an age limit of 75 for presidential candidates.

“In this moment of internal frustration, my challenge is to now get our party to survive and pursue its march towards 2020,” Mr. N’Guessan said in an interview.

In the Abobo neighborhood of Abidjan, a pro-Ouattara bastion, a carpenter named Abou Kone was ecstatic about the result, even before it was officially announced. “I am happy Ouattara can keep going,” Mr. Kone said. “He is a worker, and that is what this country needs.”

The Constitutional Court must certify the electoral results for them to become official.