In Côte d’Ivoire, a coalition of opposition political parties announced Monday they would no longer recognize the legitimacy of the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) just days ahead of legislative elections scheduled to be held on Saturday.
The Ensemble pour la Démocratie et la Souveraineté (EDS), formed last April and led by Georges-Armand Ouégnin, is demanding reform of a body it says is incapable of conducting a fair and transparent election. The coalition includes Rassemblement pour la paix (RPP), the Alliance Ivorian Republic and Democracy (AIRD), Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) and Union of New Generations (UNG) politicians.
They are joined by a total of 18 opposition parties aligned against President Alassane Ouattara – many of them with loyalty to former president Laurent Gbagbo – who say the CEI is acting in service to Ouattara’s Rassemblement des Républicains party and leadership. The existing process allows a third of all senators to be chosen directly by the president, and the others by an electoral college he controls.
The international community has expressed concern over Côte d’Ivoire’s electoral process, including a 2016 decision by the African Court of Human Rights that found the nation had “violated its obligation to establish an independent and impartial electoral body.”
The opposition leaders have called for a boycott of the Saturday senatorial election and an Abidjan protest march on Thursday ahead of it, which would follow a similar meeting in the city’s Yopougon neighborhood on Saturday. It was dispersed by police using tear gas and warning shots with at least one person injured – raising fresh concerns over the potential for electoral violence.
Image: Georges-Armand Ouégnin