After days of turmoil and uncertainty, the Ivory Coast Election Commission Chief, Youssouf Bakayoko, has announced that Opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara, has won 54.1 percent of the vote against the incumbent Laurent Gabgbo who managed a 45.9 percent share. But as expected, the supporters of the incumbent president described the announcement as an attempted coup d’état. This has led to the country’s border being closed and foreign journalists banned from reporting within the country.
In a statement immediately after the results were announced, Alassane Outtarra said “I remind my brother Laurent Gbagbo of our mutual engagement to respect the results proclaimed by the independent electoral commission,” he said. “I’m proud of my country which has resolutely chosen democracy today and I hope this leads to a durable peace in Ivory Coast.” The veteran opposition politician also called on his supporters to be calm and respect the outcome.
Apparently, for the result to become legitimate, they must be validated by the country’s constitutional council. But concerns have been expressed by analysts who are questioning the impartiality of the council as it is led by a ruling party loyalist called Paul Yao N’Dre. He (N’Dre) has already been quoted saying on state-controlled television, that the results announced by the electoral commission are invalid because they (the commission) missed a constitutionally prescribed mandate to make the announcement before the midnight deadline this past Wednesday.
Local state-owned media are accusing foreign governments of interference in the election and have denounced the electoral commission’s announcement. But it seems Laurent Gbagbo has lost the support of the international community and that of his own people, and it is extremely difficult to see him making any attempt once more to hang on to power as the writing seems to be finally on the wall that the people want change. Any further attempt to use violent means to stay in power might provoke all-out war in a country that has seen its own share of brutal civil conflict. The African Union should intervene immediately to ensure full democratic transition of power and prevent the country slipping into anarchy.
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