Ouattara’s party wins majority in Ivory Coast parliament vote
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s party won a majority in last weekend’s legislative elections, official results showed Tuesday, in a vote that raised hopes the country’s recent violent tensions were behind it.
Ouattara’s RHDP won 137 of 254 contested seats compared to 91 for opposition parties in Saturday’s polls, according to results published by the West African country’s electoral commission.
The vote passed off peacefully and for the first time in a decade included all of the country’s main political players, providing hope that Ivory Coast has begun to emerge from recent turbulence.
It was a key test of stability following violence surrounding October’s presidential vote, which was boycotted by the opposition and claimed 87 lives.
“We see that the RHDP is the most representative party in Ivory Coast,” said the party’s number two Adama Bictogo.
“We have elected officials throughout the territory in all regions,” he added, hailing “the transparency, the calm” with which the elections were carried out.
The main opposition PDCI has however alleged electoral fraud, while ex-president Laurent Gbagbo’s FPI party had called on its supporters to remain calm and await the official results.
Tuesday’s results showed the largest opposition grouping will be a coalition formed by PDCI members and Gbagbo supporters, which won 50 seats.
One seat remains unfilled in the 255-seat assembly due to the death of a candidate in a northern constituency, where an election will be held within a month.
Turnout was 37.88 percent, the same as in the last legislative elections in 2016.
“The RHDP has succeeded in tipping many regions in its favour and it is in the process of acquiring the status of a national party, beyond its traditional strongholds in the north of the country,” political scientist Sylvain N’Guessan said ahead of the complete results.
The PDCI opposition, the party of ex-president Henri Konan Bedie, “seems to be losing momentum,” he said.
The return of Gbagbo’s FPI, or Ivorian Popular Front, which participated after a decade of boycott, “did not have a great influence on either the score or the turnout,” said N’Guessan.
The FPI had boycotted all polls since the arrest of Gbagbo in 2011 in Abidjan and his subsequent transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
His arrest followed violence after the 2010 presidential election that left 3,000 dead.
Gbagbo was acquitted in January 2019 and is now living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal, though he has announced plans to return home.
Ouattara has recently reached out to his old foe in a bid for “national reconciliation” and issued Gbagbo with two passports, one of them a diplomatic pass.
The 79-year-old president had ignited political unrest last year when he announced he would seek a third term in office — a scheme that critics said sidestepped constitutional limits.
In the 2016 elections to the National Assembly, the RHDP commanded 167 seats plus support from its allies.
It wielded more than two-thirds of the seats — a so-called qualified majority enabling it to approve changes to the constitution.
It has now lost this option, although its majority is still big enough to push through reforms sketched out by Ouattara during his controversial third tilt at the presidency.
Opposition falls short
In the March 6 elections, the centre-right PDCI formed an unprecedented alliance with the left-of-centre Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS) — a coalition including supporters of Gbagbo and dominated by his FPI.
Their declared aim was to thwart Ouattara from “consolidating absolute power.”
The strategy fell short of this aim. The EDS won 50 seats, PDCI candidates separately won 23 seats and pro-Gbagbo candidates won eight. Adding the tally of minor parties brings the opposition tally to 91 seats.
Independent candidates won 26 seats.
Ouattara’s RHDP wrested several former strongholds of the PDCI, including in the capital Yamoussoukro.
Gbagbo’s eldest son, Michel, was elected in the constituency of Yopougon in Abidjan, the country’s largest.
“It’s a happy event,” the younger Gbagbo told AFP.
“We are going to try to consolidate this process of democratisation in political life, with the aim of securing lasting peace.”
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