Anansi: Gbagbo’s destiny
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.??
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.