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Ivorian poll passes off in democratic atmosphere despite tension – UN envoy

Ivorian poll passes off in democratic atmosphere despite tension – UN envoy

Y. J. Choi
The run-off presidential elections in Côte d'Ivoire yesterday proceeded “in a democratic atmosphere” despite tension and violent incidents that left three people dead, the United Nations envoy to the West African country said today, calling for calm as the provisional results are awaited.

Y. J. Choi, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), said the UN mission was “encouraged to note that along all the five observation routes it established, representatives of both candidates were present in all the polling stations.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, noted that by exercising their right to vote, the people of Côte d'Ivoire had demonstrated their desire for peace and stability, and urged the two candidates and their political parties to abide by the law in the resolution of any disputes that might arise.

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo was pitted against former prime minister Alassane Ouattara in the run-off poll, which followed the first round of the election on 31 October.

“As was the case on the day after the first round, the moment has come to safeguard the result. I have no doubt that the will of the Ivorian people, as expressed yesterday, will be respected. I also have no doubt that no candidate will resort to undemocratic means to express his position on the result of the poll,” Mr. Choi said.

He stressed that the transportation of the tally sheets is going on normally despite countless rumours, suspicion and false alarms, noting that the tally sheets from the region of Abidjan, which has about a third of the electorate, are in the process of being transported to the headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), without any incident.

“I invite everyone to have confidence in the IEC so that it can begin announcing the provisional results of yesterday’s election without delay. It is evident that we are now in a crucial phase that we are going to go through with serenity, confidence, firmness and hope,” Mr. Choi said.

He reassured the Ivorian people that they have a reliable partner in the international community, and that UNOCI will continue to support the country in its efforts to end the political crisis.

Mr. Ban also called on both candidates to “play their part in maintaining a calm environment and to accept the proclaimed and certified results in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.”

“The Special Representative of the Secretary-General will continue, in the context of his certification mandate, all his efforts to safeguard the electoral process so that the will of the Ivorian people will be respected,” the Secretary-General said. “The United Nations will provide its full support to the completion of the electoral operations and to the Ivorian peace process as a whole,” he added.

The elections, originally scheduled for as far back as 2005 and repeatedly postponed, are a major step in restoring stability in the country, which was split by civil war into a Government-held south and rebel Forces Nouvelles-controlled north in 2002.

On Saturday, youths supporting the opposition demonstrated in Abidjan’s northern suburb of Abobo after the Government declared a curfew. The protest degenerated into clashes with the security forces, resulting in the burning of a police vehicle and the death of three people among the demonstrators, Mr. Choi said.