Former president appears in front of International Criminal Court on charges related to post-election violence.
|Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri reports from the Ivorian capital, Abidjan|
The Ivory Coast’s electoral commission has published initial results of the state’s first parliamentary elections in a decade.
The results, announced late on Monday, declared the winners of eight of the 255 parliamentary seats in the ballot, with seven going to President Alassane Ouattara’s coalition and one to an independent candidate.
Officials said an opposition boycott had little effect on voting in the country.
“Overall, the election took place peacefully in polling stations visited in the district of Abidjan and the interior [of the country],” the UN secretary general’s representative for Ivory Coast said in a statement.
Justin Kone Katinan, a spokesman for deposed leader Laurent Gbagbo, however, said that low voter turnout, propelled by the opposition boycott, was a “silent revolt” that would deny Ouattara’s government legitimacy.
Katinan, claiming a record low turnout of 20 per cent, warned that a widely expected landslide by Ouattara’s party would soon be discredited.
Katinan said the Ivorian electorate “refused to confer legitimacy to his illegally acquired power”.
“Terrorised by Alassane Ouattara’s weapons, Ivorians have expressed by this silent revolt their disavowal for Ouattara’s illegal transfer of president Laurent Gbagbo,” Katinan said.
Gbagbo was recently transferred to the International Criminal Court at The Hague where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.
Election officials expect most of the results from Sunday’s election be announced on Tuesday.
With Gbago in the Hague, the presidential coalition is thought to be guaranteed to take the majority of the contested 255 seats.
The parliamentary vote was the country’s second national poll in 11 years and comes a year after disputed presidential elections ushered in months of violence.
Ivorian elections have been overshadowed by the ongoing trial of Gbagbo who is being held by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
It is alleged that his forces committed mass murder and rape after he rejected his loss in last year’s presidential election.
Baba Coulibaly, electoral commission spokesman, said polling stations closed on time and added that polls would continue to accept voters who were still in line.
Ouattara voted in Abidjan around midday and called on Ivorians to go to the polls.
“In my view, this election is essential because for the past 11 years, Ivorians have not been able to vote for their representatives in parliament,” Ouattara said.
“Today they had a possibility to do so, so they should not miss this opportunity.”
‘Politically strategic move’
Gbagbo’s party boycott was seen as a strategic move. For months the party has said that it would only participate if the government freed the former president and his allies. But the boycott will likely benefit candidates loyal to Ouattara, who took power in April with the help of French and UN forces.
The bigger issue, Gbagbo loyalists say, is the growing sense of “victor’s justice” over Gbagbo’s treatment. Prosecutors at the war crimes court said about 3,000 people died in violence by both sides after Gbagbo refused to concede.
Rights groups and the UN have also said that crimes were committed by both sides, but no member of Ouattara’s side has been charged.
Sylvain Miaka Ouretto, who now leads the FPI called the elections a “masquerade organised by the powers in place”, describing them as “not inclusive”.
Gbagbo’s transfer to the ICC has also given the party a justification to turn its back on the reconciliation process, which was launched formally in September.
The majority of Gbagbo’s entourage are in prison or under house arrest, including his ministers and the former first lady.
Tens of thousands of his supporters are still in refugee camps in neighbouring Ghana and Liberia where they fled after Ouattara’s forces seized Abidjan.