Observers laud Ivorian election

Election observers on Monday lauded Ivory Coast’s presidential election as early estimates put participation at 60 per cent, 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,” She added.

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.

There were concerns that many voters would stay at home because the outcome of the election was perceived to be in little doubt.

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 IEC, Sorou Kone, told newsmen that the initial turnout estimate was 60 per cent, though the figure would be refined as results gradually came in, adding that the commission was expected to begin announcing partial results on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Bertin 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 newsmen after casting his ballot.

Another candidate, Simeon Kouadio, said his campaign had been informed of massive fraud during the election, but failed to list specific areas of irregularities.




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