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Anansi: Gbagbo’s destiny

Posted on Monday, 21 September 2009 00:00

The 29 November polling date in Côte d’Ivoire is still as shaky as ever.

President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro are full-steam ahead

for the holding of elections, but essential questions about security for the

polls and unity within the new joint armed forces, made up of government troops

and former rebels, remain unresolved. The military budget is swelling, but

troops loyal to the government are upset that promotions granted by the rebels

may be accepted by the government. Gbagbo has also been directing money to

interior security forces that are loyal to the Presidency.??

Whenever elections

are held, the incumbent Gbagbo will face off against former head of state Henri

Konan Bédié, representing the former single party, the PDCI, and northerner

Alassane Dramane Ouatarra (ADO) and his Rassemblement des Republicains. Opinion

polls funded by Gbagbo show him in the lead with 43% of voters behind him, with

Bédié and ADO at near parity around 29%.?

The country’s ethnic composition

promises surprising electoral results, since there has not been a census since

before the beginning of the conflict in 2002. Gbagbo’s support is strongest

amongst the Bété of the West and assorted southerners. Bédié counts on the

centre and south, while ADO relies on support from the north and Ivorians with

family ties to Burkina Faso and Mali. Hoping to stop Gbagbo in the second round

of the polls, Bédié and ADO have pledged to throw their support behind whichever

one of them does the best in the first round.?

The post-Félix Houphouët-Boigny

period of Ivorian politics holds important lessons for Gabon and its new

President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba. Both countries prided themselves on being the

most francophone of post-colonies and used foreign labourers to power each

country’s region-leading economic growth. In both cases, former single parties

held on to power and were accused of using immigrants to bolster electoral

registers. Time will tell if Ali Ben has the skills to prevent the same kinds of

tensions from developing.

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