Ivory Coast poll set to bolster Prez Quattara

ABIDJAN: Ivory Coast voters went to polls on Sunday in parliamentary elections expected to deliver a comfortable victory to President Alassane Ouattara’s ruling coalition and possibly even increase its majority in parliament. Only about 6 million people had registered to vote, even though at least 10 million of the West African country’s 24 million people are believed to be of voting age. They will elect 255 legislators from among 1,337 candidates. The ruling Rassemblement Houphouetiste pour la Democratie et la Paix (RHDP) was facing opposition from parties including the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI), founded by former president Laurent Gbagbo. He has been charged with war crimes related to a former conflict with Ouattara at the International Criminal Court.
The FPI had boycotted elections since 2011, but now it has decided “to get back to work,” its leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan said at a rally. The elections also featured more than 700 independent candidates amid widespread infighting on all sides. Ouattara, a 74-year-old former International Monetary Fund economist, was re-elected to a second five-year term as president in October 2015 after presiding over considerable economic growth in the world’s largest cocoa-producing country. But the RHDP is accused by many people of acting in a monarchical fashion and of having done little to cooperate with the opposition.
Ouattara’s governing coalition, which holds 85 per cent of the seats in parliament, was nevertheless expected to win thanks to its dominance of the state media and considerable financial resources. The 2015 presidential elections were also marred by allegations of rigging. “I shall not be voting. I do not know anyone who is planning to vote,” said Celine Kone, 32, on her way to church in Abidjan. — DPA