Ouattara close to Ivory Coast win

2011-12-14 08:03

Abidjan - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's party was on the cusp of an outright parliamentary majority on Wednesday that may put its political alliances to the test.

With results in for 228 of the 255 seats in the legislature, public television said Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) had captured 123 seats in Sunday elections and its main ally, the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI), 93.

Independent candidates had garnered 12 seats so far in the election boycotted by former president Laurent Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front, said the television report which was confirmed by a government official.

"We have shown once more that the RDR is a political force that cannot be ignored," party secretary general Amadou Soumahoro told AFP.

Fear of tensions

While election laws prohibit political parties from announcing any results, newspapers are not similarly constrained.

The Patriot daily, close to Ouattara's party, declared the RDR "the big winner" of the elections and announced it had taken an "absolute majority" with about 130 seats.

"The new master," the Fraternite-Matin daily wrote of the RDR.

If the party's outright majority is confirmed, tensions may arise between the RDR and the PDCI - whose backing helped Ouattara win last year's presidential vote.

This support was supposed to have earned the PDCI the prime ministerial post, but it went instead to former rebel chief Guillaume Soro, whose New Forces battled Gbagbo's troops and brought Ouattara to power. He is tipped to retain the post to oversee an overhaul of the army.

Soro is to meet with International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in New York on Thursday. Ocampo has said that crimes were committed by all sides in the conflict and that Gbagbo would not be the last person to be held accountable.

Soro was elected in his northern stronghold Ferkessedougou with nearly 99% of the votes, a result which had been expected as he stood practically unchallenged.

3 000 killed in conflict

After their close co-operation last year, the RDR and the PCDI under former president Henri Konan Bedie were unable to unite for last Sunday's legislative polls.

Ouattara, 69, took office six months after the November 2010 polls as Gbagbo refused to step down, unleashing a conflict that claimed some 3 000 lives in a country that was once a beacon of stability in western Africa.

Gbagbo - who held on to his job five years after his initial mandate expired in 2005 - was eventually captured in his presidential palace by pro-Ouattara forces in April, with support from French and UN troops.

He is now locked up in The Hague, where he faces trial before the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, linked to the post-election violence.
He is the first former head of state to be brought before the international court.

After a decade of politico-military crisis and a campaign marred by five deaths, last week's election, in which 5.7 million eligible voters were urged to turn out, took place without serious incident.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed a "peaceful and orderly" vote and said it should contribute to reconciliation in Ivory Coast.

The electoral turnout was low, according to observers - and estimated at 20% by Gbagbo's exiled spokesman Justin Kone Katinan who claimed this showed a lack of legitimacy. This was well below the about 80% in last year's presidential election.

West African regional bloc Ecowas said on Tuesday the elections had been free and fair despite a low turnout.