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Ivory Coast votes in poll likely to bolster Ouattara

December 18, 2016

Voters in Ivory Coast are set to elect their parliament in a political field dominated by President Ouattara. The president has received praise for the country's economic progress but criticism for his political record.

Parlamentswahlen Elfenbeinküste
Image: Reuters/T. Gouegnon

Ivory Coast went to the polls on Sunday as President Alassane Ouattara sought to strengthen his parliamentary majority.

Ouattara's coalition already controls 85 percent of the seats, and was expected to hold on to power despite criticism that the ruling RHDP party runs the government like a monarchy.

"Give me a strong majority to enable me to speed up the work that I have set as an objective in the four years to come," the president said in a televised statement.

Elfenbeinküste | Präsident Alassane Ouattara spricht während der offiziellen Zeremonie der Verkündung der dritten Republik der Elfenbeinküste nach dem Referendum über eine neue Verfassung
Ouattara's administration has come under fire for its political recordImage: REUTERS/T. Gouegnon

Opposition politicians loyal to ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo, Outtara's one-time ally turned rival, hoped to gain some ground after largely boycotting politics since 2011. The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) dominated politics for over a decade after the former military junta was toppled in 2000 and Gbagbo installed as president.

Gbagbo faces ICC

Ivory Coast experienced a brief civil war in 2011 when Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to his former prime minister, Ouattara. Gbagbo was arrested by his successor's supporters and was extradited to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to face charges surrounding the post-election violence.

Elfenbeinküste Präsident Laurent Gbagbo
Gbagbo was Outtara's one-time allyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kooren

Sunday's vote appeared peaceful, according to observers, and 30,000 police were deployed throughout the nation. With Ouattara at the helm, the country has made solid economic progress but his administration has come under fire for its political record, including eschewing a national reconciliation for the country's 2011 violence that saw 3,000 people killed.

Only 6 million Ivorians are registered to vote in a country of 24 million, and they will cast their ballots for 255 legislators in a system where the winner takes all for his or her district.

es/tj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)