Friday, December 10, 2010

Elections in Côte d'Ivoire - the results ? ? ? - Who won ! Who lost ?

Politics sometimes is a joke.  Nay it is turning the lives of its citizens and the state of living to shambles.  This is a sad story of a place which was once hailed as a model of stability but has degenerated to a pathetic state owning to internal strife that plagues many Nations. An armed rebellion splitting the Nation, failed peace pacts, renewed violence, edgy political resolution and now a failed Election.  Looks a common thread in many countries………  should we not be proud that we live in a peaceful democracy not caring for the big, bigger, biggest and more bigger scams that continue to haunt one after the other.

Côte d'Ivoire elects on national level a head of state - the president - and a legislature. The president is elected for a five year term by the people. The National Assembly has 225 members, elected for a five year term in single-seat constituencies.   On 28th of Nov 2010, Ivorians went to the polls to determine their next ruler – the President.  It was a re-election as the initial one did not produce a clear cut winner.  Hours after the present election, the Electoral commission, declared opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara the winner. Shortly thereafter, however, Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council, led by an ally of President Laurent Gbagbo, set aside the Electoral Commission’s verdict.

Two bodies – two Presidents  in Ivory Coast: both Ouattara and Gbagbo have been sworn in!  

Having two heads  !! - Something unthinkable in administration; but political observers say that this is not entirely new to African continent where rulers with support of armed forces refuse to handover power even when voters have decided otherwise ?  what is the sanctity of elections and its results, most of which are rigged in favour of rulers – one tends to ask ?  Resultantly, there is only chaos and confusion in Ivory Coast, which is the largest producer of cocoa – the sweet bean.

The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire is a country in West Africa, bordered by Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso.   It was an European colony – a French colony.   The country got its independence on 7th August 1960.  Till 1993, the ruler was  Félix Houphouët-Boigny and  maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbours as also with the rest of the World.  Then came two coups in 1999 and 2001 and a political agreement.  Its de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the biggest city is the port city of Abidjan. The country is divided into 19 regions and 81 departments.  The official language is French, although many of the local languages are important, including Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo.

The produce of coffee and cocoa made it a economic powerhouse but the political crisis and internal bickerings have ploughed it down the economic crisis.   The elections now held were due in 2005 but2010 election.  Initial results announced by Electoral Commission were in favour of  Quattara.  The ruling party contested accusing charges of fraud in the areas controlled by rebels, though it was contradicted by International observers.  The announcements further led to civil unrest, tension and violent incidents rising fears of a civil war.   The African Union sent Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa, as mediator in the conflict.

Within hours of the oath taken by the new incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, Alassane Ouattara also laid claim to the presidency.  The country closed its borders and curfew was imposed in many places.    The Zimbabwean PM was reported as saying that setting up a power sharing Govt would not be the right solution to the dispute.

From the outside World, on 8th Dec  Security Council endorsed the opposition leader’s victory and approved the victory of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, reiterating its support for the United Nations role in the country.  In its press statement, the Council, stated  its readiness “to impose targeted measures against persons who attempt to threaten the peace process.  The UN body had deployed members throughout the country to find voting trends as early as possible.  It had also collected results from the 19 regional local electoral commissions, and these further confirmed the trends that it was almost certain who had won and who had lost. Finally, UNOCI examined all 20,000 tally sheets to see if there was a trace of fraud or manipulation, especially if they had been signed.

People losing to elections and still clinging on to power – is no good for the country is a simple reasoning.   It will only set wrong political precedence and will help rulers amass wealth at the cost of the state and its subjects.

Amidst all the din, the good news is that even during civil war, the country was not hit by any large scale hostilities, though there were skirmishes and attacks on foreigners.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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PS :  (made on 14th Dec 2010)

There is some disturbing news that Ivory Coast troops have  been deployed around a hotel housing Alassane Ouattara, the UN-backed winner of disputed presidential elections.

In what looks like a built up civil unrest, the  troops loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo are facing UN-forces and former rebel soldiers protecting Mr Ouattara's headquarters in Abidjan.  As stated above, both  Mr Outtara and Mr Gbagbo had declared themselves the winner of last month's election.

EU foreign ministers have agreed to prepare sanctions against Ivorian officials refusing to recognise Mr Ouattara as the country's new leader. Sanctions would target "those who are obstructing the process of peace and national reconciliation, and in particular who are jeopardizing the proper outcome of the electoral process", the ministers said.  

Things do not look well and disturbance of peace is not good for any country  -  Source BBC

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