Ivory Coast Should Delay Vote to Hold Talks, Crisis Group Says

Gbagbo, Bedié , Soro and Ouattara. back to the drawing board. Photo/Censors

Ivory Coast should briefly postpone Oct. 31 elections to settle a dispute over the legal framework of the vote, including the legitimacy of the electoral commission and the voter roll, the International Crisis Group said.

With supporters of the ruling party and the opposition heading for a confrontation, talks would “offer an opportunity to get out of the current impasse,” the Brussels-based think-tank said on its website Tuesday.

The opposition, led by Henri Konan Bedié, 86, this month called for a campaign of civil disobedience to protest President Alassane Ouattara’s third-term bid, which it considers unconstitutional. It also questions the neutrality of the electoral commission and seeks the return of some people who left the country during a 2010-11 post-election conflict.

Ouattara’s ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace argues that a new constitution adopted in 2016 reset the clock. The country’s Constitutional Council on Sept. 14 ruled in his favor, giving him permission to run.

If the vote in held in the current climate, which is marked by a “hardening of positions and speeches,” the winner will probably lack legitimacy in the eyes of his opponents and part of the population, the organization said.

Clashes between supporters of both camps have left at least 14 people dead since Ouattara announced his decision to run again. His preferred successor, former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, earlier this year died of a stroke.