On Tenterhooks as Ivory Coast Goes for Elections

By Piyushi Dhir

Ivory Coast Elections

Ringside View of Elections in Africa

A Political History Bathed in Blood

Five years ago, Cote D’Ivoire conducted a long over-due round of presidential elections. Gbagbo, who was then ruling the country, had conceded to elections after ten long years, but refused to accept the victory of the new candidate, Alassane Outtara. What followed was a period of political crisis, sporadic violence, human rights violations and the death and displacement of many innocents.

Ten years ago, Cote D’Ivoire saw a military coup, a rigged election and the country almost split along religious and ethnic lines, when the southern Christian supporters of Gbagbo were pitted against the Nothern Muslim followers of Outtara. A temporary reconciliation gave way to a full-scale rebellion, leading the country into complete chaos two years later, in 2002.

Elections- 2015

Now, on 25th October 2015, voters in Ivory Coast go to the polls once again.

Will Alassane Outtara’s achievements win him a smooth victory? There is, after all, a general agreement that the country has developed by leaps and bounds under his wings. Add to this, his illustrious credentials as a trained economist and a formed executive in the International Monetary Fund- and you have the makings of a winner.

But will Gbagbo’s party rise again to challenge Outtara? Gbagbo and his wife have been jailed by the International Criminal Court on account of alleged crimes against humanity committed during the previous election period. But that has not stopped other candidates from his party to present themselves as contestants in the 2015 elections.

Will the election even be credible? Or will the results be challenged, paving way for the candidate with the most military muscle to establish himself on the throne?

The next few weeks are going to present answers to these questions.

Incumbent President Alassane Ouattara, Cote D'Ivoire

Gearing Up for the Worst

But in the meanwhile, we are all gearing up for the worst. Our colleagues from nearby cities have congregated in San Pedro, where we have an airport, in case the need for evacuation arises. Dry ration, water, milk, gas and vegetables have been stockpiled. Movements are restricted and travel across the country is unadvisable at the moment. Offices are winding up early and children are being escorted to and from school.

Mind you, these are not just precautions taken by over-cautious expatriates and foreigners. The locals too, as affirmed by our maids and drivers, have stacked up on rice and other basics. The last time, money lost its value quickly, when costs of goods spiraled beyond belief, during the post-electoral crisis.

The Indian Embassy in Cote D’Ivoire has nominated coordinators from the 1500 Indians living in this country, and formed Whats’app groups encompassing all in order to ensure speedy dissemination of information.

Wait and Watch

A tiny country on the west coast of Africa goes for elections.

But to us here, it is not just an insignificant article in the international section of a newspaper. It is a reality surrounding us. 

And so we sit still with bated breath, waiting and watching as events unfold around us.

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About the Author

Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.