By Jennifer M. Haralambides
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Opposition leaders say they are ready to join a new unity government that will end a stand off that has threatened the country’s peace process.
Two weeks ago President Gbagbo dissolved the standing governmental body, accusing it of fraud and of being controlled by the opposition party. This dissolution caused deadly protests.
On Friday morning, Gbagbo announced the appointment of a new election commission, headed by a member of the opposition and tasked with preparing long delayed elections.
“We are satisfied with this first stage of the re-installation of the independent electoral commission, which will now go back to work,” said opposition spokesman Alphonse Djedje Mady.
After the announcement, Alassene Ouattara, senior opposition leader, told reporters that opposition groups had agreed to take the eleven seats reserved for them in the twenty-seven member cabinet.
At the heart of this dispute is the issue of voter registration. The previous electoral commission head and member of the opposition Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), Robert Mambe, was accused of fraudulently trying to add around 429,000 names to the electoral roll. That decision delayed elections that were already over six years overdue, provoking a public outcry that led to violence in the streets and a handful of deaths. Mambe has denied the allegations.
Even though the new head of the electoral commission, Youssouf Bakayoko, also comes from the PDCI, he will be forced to abandon all political activity.
This new government includes many of the same people involved in the previous government, and the independent electoral commission also remains much the same.
No new date has been set for the much anticipated elections, although officials hope they can be held sometime in April or May.
“If it means peace can come back to your country then I guess that’s good . . . . We’re really tired of all this,” said fruit seller Odette Brou.
For more information, please see:
AFP – I. Coast Opposition Agrees to Join Government – 26 February 2010
BBC – Ivory Coast Opposition to Join New Unity Government – 26 February 2010
Reuters – Ivory Coast Opposition to Join Govt., End Protests – 27 February 2010