Election officials said Tuesday that Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara had won a third term in a landslide war. But his two main opponents boycotted the election and refused to recognize the results, raising fears that the West African nation might sink deeper into political violence.
Mr. Ouattara ran for a third term, although the Ivory Constitution limited the president to two terms. According to the country’s electoral commission, he won Saturday’s election with more than 94% of the vote.
But the number of voters who went to the ballot showed that many had paid attention to calls to boycott the vote, leading international observers to think the election lacked fair competition. Mr. Ouattara̵7;s two main rivals, Pascal Affi N’Guessan and Henri Konan Bédié, say the president ran illegally.
It was one of a series of presidential elections held in African countries for several months – and incumbents in many other races have bent the rules to stay in power. From Guinea to Uganda, presidents have changed their constitution, prosecuted adversaries or manipulated the supreme courts to ensure they can stay in power or run for re-election.
Mr. Ouattara’s two main opponents on Monday said they had set up a transitional body, led by Mr. Bédié, to prepare for new and fair and transparent elections. It was not immediately clear how they could continue with their plan.
Mr. Ouattara, who became president in 2010 and re-elected in 2015, said in March that he would not run for reelection. But after the Ivory prime minister and Mr Ouattara’s chosen successor suddenly died in July, the president declared that he was in the best position to lead the country for another five-year term.
In August, Mr. Ouattara announced that he would defy the term limits of the constitution and run for a third term. Since then, the protests have rocked the nation 26 million people and at least 40 people have been killed in unrest during the presidential campaign.
The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday more than 3,200 people had left the Ivory Coast for neighboring countries Liberia, Ghana and Togo because of electoral tensions. About 2,600 people went to Liberia, with 1,000 arriving on Sunday only.
The agency said violence caused by the election had not been seen in the Ivory Coast since the 2010 presidential dispute between Mr Ouattara and then President Laurent Gbagbo triggered a civil war. . The conflict eventually killed 3,000 people, forced more than 300,000 people to leave the country and more than a million displaced within the country.
Mr. Gbagbo, who also refused to leave power, was finally captured by Mr. Ouattara’s men after the country’s second civil war in less than 10 years. He was acquitted by the International Criminal Court last year after appearing in court on charges of crimes against humanity during the 2010-2011 crisis. Prosecutors appealed the decision.
Mr. Ouattara denied the allegations that he ran illegally this year, saying that his term clock was reset to zero after the country passed a new constitution in 2016. The previous constitution, passed in 2000, also limited the president to two terms.
Mr. Ouattara said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde last month that he was running for a third term against his will and mission, calling the ongoing tensions “fake. “.
Two election-monitoring nonprofits say violence, the fraudulent election process and civil disobedience calls by opposition leaders have hindered a competitive vote.
In a report released Tuesday, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa and the Carter Center found that the claim of Mr Ouattara’s candidacy by the Ivorya constitutional committee was “without chance. clear or proven legal basis “and 40 of the 44 presidential candidates were disqualified from the race with no effective remedy.
“This alarming trend echoes the trend observed on the African continent of changing or amending the constitution to allow an incumbent president to run for a third term,” the report said.
Bédié, who ruled the country from 1993 to 1999, said on Monday that his whereabouts, in the economic capital Abidjan, had been targeted by gunshots. On Tuesday, security forces blocked roads around his residence, according to reports and footage shared on social platforms. They fired tear gas and dispersed supporters and journalists.