Politics across different African countries is complex and like most democratic countries such as the USA, India and UK, elections are a highly important part of independent countries’ democratic process. Unfortunately, due to the presence of incompetent and corrupt leaders, some African countries don’t get to experience the joys of democracy. This corruption comes in the form of rigging of the electoral process through the stealing of ballots, manipulation of numbers and threatening of voters. In some cases, rigging results in riots led to burning buildings and killings, thereby threatening the safety of citizens. African countries deserve to practice peaceful free and fair elections yet year after year, we don’t get the privilege of doing so. A recent example is the Cote d’Ivoire presidential elections. Tensions rose in the West African country as the government held its elections in late October to early November. Here is a breakdown of the election week in Ivory Coast.
On October 20th, less than two weeks before the presidential elections, Côte d’Ivoire faced tension and civil unrest. Opposition protests escalated and at least three people died that weekend. As the day of the elections drew nearer and tensions in the form of riots and clashes grew, the hashtag #PrayforCoted’Ivoire circulated on social media.
Voting in the Ivory Coast began as early as Oct 31st when President Alassane Outtara sought out a third term, an unconstitutional candidacy that rival candidates urged their supporters to boycott. More than 35,000 police and security personnel were dispatched in order to supposedly secure the election.
The continous riots, street clashes and protests killed 30 people and brought back horrible flashbacks from the 2010 Ivorian election where Outtara’s victory led to a brief civil war between him and his predecessor, killing 3000. This truly illustrates the hypocrisy of not just Outtara but of many African leaders who unlawfully stay in power for longer than necessary after promising a good tenure in their manifestos.
On November 2nd, the electoral commission announced that President Outtara allegedly secured more than 94% of the votes. Despite the opposition boycotts, clashes and protests refuting his candidacy he won all 108 constituencies. The electoral commission said the final voter turnout was less than 60%; however, the opposition claimed only 10% of Ivorians participated in the elections thereby adding evidence that the election may have been won through rigging. This heartbreaking situation in Ivory Coast happens more often than you think in many African countries.
To understand more of the Ivorian elections, I highly recommend reading the article below written by a young Ivorian on how the Ivory Coast has been politically divided for years and how youth are working toward peace in other West African nations. His article helps answer where the Ivory Coast is, why the boycotts occurred, and how young people can help to unify the politically-divided country from an Ivorian perspective This young Ivorian voice is important, and I hope you enjoy his article and I hope mine helped in amplifying the voices of Ivorians like his.
Youth in Ivory Coast Seek Peace Amidst Political Tumult by N’guettia Yvan Sosthène Adayé (2020): https://news-decoder.com/youth-in-ivory-coast-seek-peace-amid-political-tumult/
Ivory Coast Presidential Elections by NWE (2020) https://www.instagram.com/p/CHAvhHEBpO3/?igshid=gvg2qh9gnzx5 / https://www.instagram.com/p/CHH6FJ6B_Nd/?igshid=h2vdx7g6w046