Ivory Coast president declared winner in contested election – Vatican News

Vatican News staff writer

The Ivory Coast electoral commission announced Tuesday morning that Alassane Ouattara has won re-election to a third term as president of the west African nation.

Opposition groups immediately rejected the results, citing Ivory Coast’s constitution which sets a two-term limit on the presidency. The incumbent argued, however, that the approval of a new constitution in 2016 allowed him to restart his mandate.

According to the results announced Tuesday, Ouattara won with over 94% of the vote, with a turnout of 53.90% of voters. Leaders of opposition groups, which had called for a boycott of the election, said turnout was closer to 10%. They said they did not recognize an Ouattara victory, and would instead form a transitional council that would work on organising “a fair, transparent, and inclusive presidential election.”

International election observers had already noted on Monday that “a significant portion of the population did not vote,” compared to previous elections. A statement released by the observer mission carried out by The Carter Center and Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa added, “these problems threaten public acceptance of the results and the country’s cohesion.”

Disputes over the election and Ouattara’s candidacy led to violence prior to Saturday’s election, with at least 30 people killed. Violence also broke out on election day itself, with reports of five deaths.

Recent elections in Ivory Coast have led to widespread unrest, with a brief civil war following the election in 2010 that left more than 3000 people dead.

The streets of the capital, Abidjan, remained calm in the early morning hours after the results were announced but it was unknown whether that would hold.

The opposition on Monday night said that its call for civil disobedience was still in effect and told its supporters “to remain mobilized until the final victory.” The U.N. refugee agency reported that as of Tuesday more than 3,200 Ivorians had fled to Liberia, Ghana and Togo fearing post-electoral violence.

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