opposition withdraws from electoral process and puts pressure on Alassane Ouattara

The two opposition leaders, ex-president Henri Konan Bedie, and ex-prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, jointly recalled their boycott of the presidential election on October 15, 2020 / AFP / SIA KAMBOU SIA KAMBOU / AFP

From its first day, the electoral campaign bogs down. Thursday, October 15, during a joint press conference, Henri Konan Bédié (PDCI) and Pascal Affi N’Guessan (FPI), the two main opposition candidates to Alassane Ouattara, declared themselves “Not at all concerned by the current electoral process”, even considering that this one was “Illegal”.

On October 31, the country must elect its president of the republic. The opposition not only rejects the candidacy for a third term of President Alassane Ouattara, judged “Unconstitutional”, eShe also points to a constitutional council “In the pay of power”, who rejected 40 of the 44 candidacies submitted, including those of former President Laurent Gbagbo – who has not yet spoken from Brussels – and former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro – in exile in Paris. At both the PDCI and the FPI, we therefore ask for a « report » the ballot, to allow all candidates who so wish to participate in the election. But the request went unanswered.

Boycott by all means

So, this Thursday, addressing their activists, former President Henri Konan Bédié and former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, called for “To block this electoral coup that President Ouattara is about to commit”. And invited them to “Implement the slogan of active boycott by all legal means at their disposal”.

We would therefore have passed to the active phase of ” civil disobedience “. Initially, the initiative launched without too many details by Mr. Bédié on September 20 had so far remained followed by little effect. But this October 15, just moments after the joint declaration of the two opponents, details were this time brought to the activists. An internal document of the FPI, now asks them “To prevent the conveyance and distribution of any electoral material and posters”.

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This message also appeals to supporters of opponents “To prevent campaign meetings” Even though many gatherings in Abidjan as elsewhere in the country are planned by President Ouattara’s camp in the coming days. Finally, they were invited to “Prevent the distribution and withdrawal of voter cards”. An announcement far from trivial, since it comes the day after the start of the distribution of these documents in the polling stations. Organized by the independent electoral commission, whose opposition demands reform, the operation concerns 7.5 million Ivorians.

“This declaration of the opposition therefore confirms the failure of political dialogue between the two camps”, observes Arsène Bado, political analyst and author of the report The uncertain elections published in 2019 at the Simon-Skjodt Center. In recent weeks, the opposition has procrastinated on its participation in the poll. But refusing to use the term of « boycott », she hoped above all for a shift in power on the institutions as well as on the electoral calendar.

In the coming days, roadblocks and demonstrations should be quickly organized according to members of the opposition. And for many, the announcement of this boycott signals the beginning of a period of uncertainty in the country. This Thursday evening, a relative of the candidate Henri Konan Bédié even said “Worried by this showdown which could lead to clashes”.

Calm the game

While on the one hand this boycott was being prepared, discussions continued with the authorities, in an attempt to calm things down, but in vain. “Ouattara is stubborn, he has already put up his campaign placards all over Abidjan, he is in a logic of force passage and democracy is breaking out. But we are not going to let it go, and this will undoubtedly lead to violence because the Ivorians are overwhelmed ”, observed this October 15, the national secretary of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Arthur Kesse.

However, before embarking on this active boycott, the support of the opposition forces still had some questions on Thursday evening. “Will we be followed by the other political leaders of the opposition? Do we really have the means? What will happen next if we fail? “, asked a relative of Affi N’Guessan, before answering that finally, “All this is the great unknown. “

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In this general vagueness, one certainty remains however, it is that the PDCI and the FPI say they are still ready to settle. “At the negotiating table” with power. “In politics anything is always possible. If there is an inflection, we too could take a step towards them ”, even assures a relative of Mr. Bédié.

But for now, nothing seems to alter the serenity of the Outtara clan sure of its victory in the first round. It is even estimated that “If they don’t go, it’s a forfeit on their part that doesn’t disqualify the winning team. Anyway, the IEC has already printed the ballots. Their scores will therefore be counted. ” A facade assurance, which still adds a little discredit in this already very delicate election.

Youenn Gourlay(Abidjan (correspondence)) and Yassin Ciyow(Abidjan (correspondence))

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