Ivory Coast president claims landslide win, opposition cries foul

Election commission says Alassane Ouattara, 78, garnered 94 percent of the votes amid opposition boycott of the polls.

President Ouattara received more than 90 percent in most districts in Saturday's vote [Issouf Sanogo/AFP]

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has won a third term in office with 94.27 percent of the vote, the electoral commission announced, after a bitter election which sparked deadly violence and which opposition voters boycotted.

“Thus elected president of the republic, Alassane Ouattara,” Kuibiert-Coulibaly Ibrahime, the head of the electoral commission announced early on Tuesday.

He said the final turnout for the October 31 election was at 53.90 percent.

The results have to be validated by the country’s constitutional council which will declare the final winner after hearing any challenges or complaints of irregularities.

The election commission said final turnout for the October 31 election was at 53.90 percent [Sia Kambou/AFP]

Two main opposition candidates on the ballot had asked supporters not to take part in Saturday’s election, in protest at Ouattara’s decision to run. Their parties said whole swathes of the country had not participated.

Opposition activists say Ouattara’s decision to seek a third term was a further blow to democracy in West Africa less than three months after a military coup in neighbouring Mali and a successful third term bid by Guinea’s President Alpha Conde.

Ouattara, 78, received more than 90 percent of votes in most districts, although the opposition said his bid was an illegal attempt to hold onto power.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reporting from the Nigerian capital, Abuja said the announced results will not lead to an end to the political wrangling in Ivory Coast.

“Ouattara’s supporters are ecstatic. For the opposition supporters, this is not what they wanted and they say they are going to resist it. And for the rest of Ivory Coast this result means more tension. There are concerns things could deteriorate in the coming days,” Idris said.

The Ivorian constitution limits presidents to two terms, but Ouattara says the approval of a new constitution in 2016 allowed him to restart his mandate.

The disagreement led to clashes in the lead up to the vote, in which at least 30 people died. At least five more were killed on Saturday, officials said.

The world’s top cocoa-growing country was spared the widespread violence that many feared would erupt during voting, but many Ivorians fear that the country could experience longer term unrest.

A brief civil war following a disputed election in 2010 killed more than 3,000 people.

The Carter Center, which monitored Saturday’s election, said the political and security situation made it difficult to organise a credible vote.

“The electoral process excluded a large number of Ivorian political forces and was boycotted by part of the population in a volatile security environment,” it said in a statement.

A transitional council

The opposition candidates who boycotted the vote – former President Henri Konan Bedie and ex-Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan – have said they will not recognise Ouattara’s victory.

In a joint statement on Monday evening, they announced the creation of a transitional council presided by Bedie.

“The council will have a mission to prepare the framework for a credible and transparent presidential election. It will name a government in the coming hours,” N’Guessan said in a news conference.

The authorities accused the opposition of “plotting against the authority of the state”.

“The government has asked the Abidjan public prosecutor for the authors and accomplices of these offences to be brought to justice,” Justice Minister Sansan Kambile told a press conference.

The goal, he said, was to “prepare the framework for a fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election”.

Kambile said “this statement, as well as violence perpetrated as a result of the boycott, constitute acts of assault and plotting against the authority of the state and national territorial integrity”.

Asked whether this meant opposition leaders would be arrested, Kambile replied: “All options are on the table. He (the prosecutor) will be able to quietly consider all the options at his disposal.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies