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Côte d’Ivoire - 2015 President

Cote d’Ivoire is a democratic republic ruled by a freely elected government. The country held a presidential election in October 2015, in which President Alassane Ouattara was re-elected by a significant majority. International and domestic observers judged the election to be free and fair. Civilian authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces.

The most serious human rights problems were security force abuses and the government’s inability to enforce the rule of law. The Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire (FRCI), the country’s military, and the gendarmerie were responsible for arbitrary detentions, including at informal detention centers. Prison and detention center conditions were harsh and life threatening. Corruption persisted in the judiciary, police, the military, customs, contract awards tax offices, and other government institutions, and the judiciary was inefficient and lacked independence. There were allegations made by opposition groups of torture of political prisoners and of extrajudicial killings. There was a case of forced disappearance; and there were reports of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment; arbitrary arrest; and prolonged pretrial detention. The government restricted press freedom and freedom of assembly.

Security forces generally lacked basic training and had an inadequate command and control structure. Impunity and corruption were endemic, and security checkpoints throughout the country often served to extort bribes. Particularly in the western part of the country, communities continued to rely on Dozos (traditional hunters) to meet their security needs. After the minister of defense warned the Dozos in 2013 not to interfere in security matters, they were less visible. Security forces failed at times to prevent or respond to societal violence, particularly in the western part of the country, where there were several incidents of intercommunal clashes.

Preparations for the presidential election were often contentious. In May the National Assembly passed reforms to the electoral code amid allegations from some civil society and opposition representatives that the reforms did not go far enough in strengthening the autonomy of the CEI. Revision of the electoral registry began in June after several delays. Although the voter registration period was originally scheduled for June 1-30, the CEI extended the voter registration period through July 12, in recognition of low initial turnout rates. Although the CEI had projected that as many as three million new voters would be added to the registry, 344,295 new voters were registered. Civil society observers also reported delays in distributing national identity cards and certificates, two documents required to register to vote, until after the conclusion of the voter registration period. A faction of the opposition chose not to participate in the presidential election to protest perceived imbalances in the electoral process.

The October 2015 national presidential election was peaceful and credible. International and domestic observers judged the election to be free and fair. This was the first time in 25 years the presidential election occurred peacefully. Preparations for the presidential election were often contentious. In May the National Assembly passed reforms to the electoral code amid allegations from some civil society and opposition representatives that the reforms did not go far enough in strengthening the autonomy of the CEI.

Revision of the electoral registry began in June 2015 after several delays. Although the voter registration period was originally scheduled for June 1-30, the CEI extended the voter registration period through July 12, in recognition of low initial turnout rates. Although the CEI had projected that as many as three million new voters would be added to the registry, 344,295 new voters were registered. Civil society observers also reported delays in distributing national identity cards and certificates, two documents required to register to vote, until after the conclusion of the voter registration period. A faction of the opposition chose not to participate in the presidential election to protest perceived imbalances in the electoral process.

The 25 October 2015 poll in Ivory Coast was regarded as a key test of the West African nation's return to stability. A disputed election in 2010 unleashed weeks of armed violence which claimed some 3,000 lives. President Alassane Ouattara, whose leadership has helped Ivory Coast re-emerge as rising economic star on the African continent, was the favorite to win this 2015 election. The World Bank says the Ivorian economy has grown by an average of nine percent per year over the last three years. "We must ensure that we emerge from this election with peace and serenity," Ouattara said after voting in Abidjan. There were, however, concerns that a boycott by part of the opposition, coupled with voter apathy, could lead to a low turnout.

Ouattara's main challenger wss former prime minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan from a breakaway faction of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the party of ex-President Lauren Gbagbo. After the 2010 poll, Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara, who had been declared the winner. Ouatarra was finally inaugurated in 2011 and Gbagbo was ousted by military force with backing from France.





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Page last modified: 06-09-2021 11:51:01 ZULU