One day after Ivory Coast's landmark presidential election, which saw 80% turnout, Ivoirians await the announcement of results from the first round. Though the election was peaceful, there are fears that the outcome could lead to street clashes.
Ivoirians must be content with the early indications of the polling from the Ivorian Diaspora, which have been released over Radio Television Ivoirienne (RTI), but these figures are so small that are not significantly indicative. However, provisional results for the economic capital of the country Abidjan, which makes up approximately a third of the country’s population, could be announced as this evening.
High voter turnout
Voter turnout has been high, with 80 per cent of the population casting their ballot according to the electoral commission. Now the entire country is waiting with bated breath for the results of the first round of Sunday’s landmark election to be announced. Though observers said the election was held without violent incidents, there are fears that the former West African powerhouse could be plunged into another round of violence if the outcome is contested.
Pending the announcement of the official figures, all the political parties have urged their supporters to accept and respect the verdict from the election, no matter what the results. This point was further echoed by the UN Special Representative for Ivory Coast, South Korea’s Choi Young-jin.
MELISSA BELL REPORTING FROM IVORY COAST
Standing in the line at a polling station in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city, Bambanaoua, a 34-year-old hairdresser, said she had arrived at 4 a.m. local time. "I came with my family - my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins ... everyone is here. Today, we do not work, we vote. It’s a day for celebrating.”
Trepidation after years of instability
But for many Ivorians and members of the international community, it was also a day of trepidation. Sunday’s election was widely seen as Ivory Coast’s best chance to resolve years of instability following a bitter civil war that split the country in two.
Fears that the election results could trigger violence and a new period of unrest have driven some residents to stock up on food and fuel, fearing riots or street clashes if candidates dispute the election results.
In the past two presidential elections, the announcement of results led to an outbreak of violence in the country.
Once considered one of West Africa’s most stable, prosperous nations, Ivory Coast has been mired in a political crisis triggered by a 2002 coup attempt against Gbagbo, who is one of the leading candidates in Sunday’s poll.
But observers said Sunday's vote proceeded in an atmosphere of calm. Independent Electoral Commission’s president, Youssout Bakayoko, congratulated his countrymen for participating in a "historic moment" that took place "in complete peace".
IN PICTURES: ELECTION DAY FEVER
In the poor neighbourhood of Kumasi in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic capital, voters began queuing outside a polling station as early as 6 a.m. (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
Aboubacar and Adama proudly display their identity cards for what they say is a “historic” poll. “There have never been real elections in Ivory Coast. The country is finally going to find peace, unity and prosperity.” (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
Some 5.7 million Ivorians are eligible to vote in Sunday’s election. It is an appetising business opportunity for enterprising street vendors. (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
This polling station in Abidjan, like others across the country, gives special priority to senior voters. (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
Around 60,000 election officials credited by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission are overseeing the first round of the presidential election. (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
Voters must choose from a list of 14 presidential hopefuls. Among them, only three are expected to garner massive support: incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, and former president Henri Konan Bedie. (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
In Koumassi, the first voters were able to cast their ballots at 8:30 a.m., an hour-and-a-half later than the time polling stations were officially scheduled to open.(Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
Once they have cast their ballot, voters must plunge their index finger into an indelible ink well to prevent voter fraud. (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
By noon, this Abidjan polling station was packed with enthusiastic voters exercising their civic rights. (Photo: Guillaume Guguen)
Date created : 2010-11-01