Cote d’Ivoire heads to elections after political turmoil

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ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST - DECEMBER 18: Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara casts his vote during the parliamentary elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on December 16, 2016. (Photo by Cyrille Bah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ivory Coast is set to vote in a parliamentary ballot today Saturday 6 March, in a key test of stability after presidential elections last year marked by violence.

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST – DECEMBER 18: Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara casts his vote during the parliamentary elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on December 16, 2016.
(Photo by Cyrille Bah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Grappling with a deep political crisis, President Alassane Ouattara has offered an olive branch to his former rival, Laurent Gbagbo, whose party has now lifted a decade-long boycott of elections.

His Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) is the driving force of a centre-left coalition named Together for Democracy and Solidarity (EDS).

More than 1,500 candidates are vying for the votes of roughly seven million people in a contest for the 255-seat National Assembly.

In contrast to the bloodshed that marked the October 31, 2020 presidential polls, campaigning has been as peaceful as it has been enthusiastic.

All the candidates have pledged support for peaceful elections and signed up to a code of conduct.

“The prospect (of a high turnout) favours peaceful elections,” said Adama Bictogo, a candidate for the constituency of Agboville, near Abidjan.

In the last legislative vote in December 2016, Ouattara’s RHDP party teamed up with the centre-right Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI), winning an absolute majority with 167 seats.

But last year’s crisis has shattered that deal.

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