By Linda Bordoni
“My thoughts go to the Ivory Coast,” Pope Francis said, “which today celebrates the National Day of Peace in a context of social and political tensions that have unfortunately caused many victims.”
Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope asked for prayers to the Lord for national harmony. He also exhorted “all the sons and daughters of that dear country to collaborate responsibly for reconciliation and a peaceful coexistence.”
“In particular, I encourage the various political actors to re-establish a climate of mutual trust and dialogue in the quest for just solutions that protect and promote the common good,” he said.
Controversial election and aftermath
Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council announced that President Alassane Quattara had won his bid for a third term in office on 9 November. Since then violence has continued across the country, with the political capital Yamoussoukro a particular flashpoint.
At least 16 people have reportedly died in election-related violence.
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, registered 8,000 people as having fled the country – half of them to neighboring Liberia – and the rest to Ghana, Guinea, and Togo.
Observers said the mass exodus may well have been precautionary measures, similar to those taken by Abidjan residents, who left the city in droves before Election Day, but said they would be back as soon things were back to normal.