President Laurent Gbagbo urges patience for peaceful vote
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Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo answers our questions as Ivoirian leaders meet in Burkina Faso to kickstart the electoral process, after the sixth postponement of the presidential vote.
In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has brushed off criticism over the country’s long-delayed elections, saying his priority was avoiding a new civil war rather than speeding along a potentially divisive poll.
"It’s our affair," Gbagbo said. "Leave us alone to do our work ... We know what we are doing. I’m telling you there will be an election without war. That’s what’s important.”
The Ivorian opposition has accused Gbagbo of intentionally delaying the election that was supposed to determine his successor in 2005. No new date has been set since the vote scheduled for Nov. 29 was once again postponed.
Analysts say the delays have extended a political deadlock that dates back to the 2002-03 civil war, preventing crucial reforms in the world’s top cocoa grower and discouraging potential foreign investments in what was once west Africa’s economic centre.
Controversial issues of nationality – which sparked the civil war that split the country, leaving the north in rebel hands – are at the heart of recent problems contributing to election delays; there is widespread confusion over whether or not around 1 million residents are Ivorian and therefore eligible to vote.
Speaking to FRANCE 24, Gbagbo said that the timing of elections was up to the “independent electoral commission” and that he was waiting, along with the other candidates, for further information.
Gbagbo dismissed objections coming from the opposition in Ivory Coast, saying “it knows that what it is saying is wrong” and adding that “the opposition in Ivory Coast in fact controls the independent electoral commission.”
He also struck back at what he suggested were misguided Western critics, saying that they failed to understand that the political institutions of his country differ from those in Europe.
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