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Ivorian king-makers and horse trading

By By Théophile Kouamouo in Abidjan
Posted on Friday, 5 November 2010 15:20

The outcome of the first round of voting means that Gbagbo and Ouattara will have to make deals and fight hard to win over enough voters to take the second round on 28 November.

After more than 48 hours of fevered waiting, Ivorians are settled on a new target. They will choose their future president in a second round which will pit incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, who came in first place with 38.3% of the vote, against former prime minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara, who scored 32.1%. With 25.2%, former head of state Henri Konan Bédié came in third and is now out of the race.

At the end of the first round, which was held on 31 October, Gbagbo profited from his relative majority in the Lagunes region (around 46%), where the three candidates battled for Abidjan’s votes. This allowed him to accumulate a reserve of about 250,000 votes over his principal adversary. While he does not have any bastions where he is untouchable, Gbagbo came in first place in 11 of 19 regions in the east, west and south. However, the north, controlled by the former rebel Forces Nouvelles, and where he took only about 10% of the vote, cost him most of his lead.

As for Ouattara, he recorded impressive scores in the northern parts of the country. He walked away with the four northern regions, with scores that went from 73.4% in Bafing to 93.4% in Denguélé. In Bandama, in the central region, where the ex-rebellion fief of Bouaké is located, he outpaced Bédié’s party and came out ahead with 49.9%. In four other regions, including Abidjan, he came in second place.

Bédié could not make up for his poor score in the region housing Abidjan, where he only scored 19%, and in the north, where he fared quite badly. Outside of the three regions where he took the leading position, he came in second place in eight others.

Bédié’s supporters have been the most vocal in claiming that the vote was fraudulent. His campaign said that the management and behaviour of the Commission Electorale Indépendante was opaque at best. Bédié has said that he will pursue his claims through legal means and has asked for his supporters to remain calm. His camp announced on 5 November that it had filed an official complaint and the Constitutional Court has until 10 November to validate the results. The UN mission in the country and other electoral observers largely praised the management of the polls.

It is the voters for the leader of the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) who hold the outcome of the second round in their hands. In order to win, Gbagbo needs to take about half of their votes, and Ouattara, who formed a pre-election alliance with Bédié through the Rassemblement des Houphouétistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix, needs two-thirds of their votes.

Although Ouattara and Bédié have long agreed on their alliance, their divergent political ideologies will make it unlikely that Bédié’s supporters will feel comfortable voting for someone who represents the north. Under Bédié’s PDCI, the government mobilised the xenophobic idea of Ivoirité,which sought to exclude Ivorians with parents from foreign countries from participating in the political process. On those grounds, many of Bédié’s supporters would be more likely to vote for Gbagbo.

Who will succeed in seducing them in the second round, which is planned for 28 November? What

role will the abstention rate play? Let the betting begin.

This article was first published in French on our sister website, Jeune Afrique.

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