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Ivory Coast: Ouattara’s party wins majority in parliament vote

President Alassane Ouattara’s RHDP wins 137 of 254 contested seats, compared with 91 for opposition parties, according to official results.

Published by Al Jazeera on March 9, 2021.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara (Sia Kambou - AFP)

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s party has won a majority in last weekend’s legislative elections, official results showed.

Ouattara’s RHDP won 137 of 254 contested seats compared with 91 for opposition parties in Saturday’s polls, according to results published on Tuesday by the country’s electoral commission.

The vote passed off peacefully and for the first time in 10 years, it 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 the violence surrounding October’s presidential vote, which was boycotted by the opposition, and killed 87 people.

The main opposition PDCI has however alleged electoral fraud, while the FPI party of former President Laurent Gbagbo 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.

The 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 was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency ahead of the complete results.

The PDCI, the party of former President Henri Konan Bedie, “seems to be losing momentum”, he said. The return of Gbagbo’s FPI, or Ivorian Popular Front, which participated after 10 years 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 in which 3,000 people died. 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 by Ouattara during his controversial third tilt at the presidency.

© 2021 Al Jazeera Media Network


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