Ouattara's party wins majority in Ivory Coast parliament vote

The vote passed off peacefully and for the first time in a decade included all of the country's main political players, providing hope that Ivory Coast has begun to emerge from recent turbulence.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara delivers a speech on 14 December 2020 during his inauguration ceremony in Abidjan. Picture: AFP

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's party won a majority in last weekend's legislative elections, official results showed Tuesday, in a vote that raised hopes the country's recent violent tensions were behind it.

Ouattara's RHDP won 137 of 254 contested seats compared to 91 for opposition parties in Saturday's polls, according to results published by the West African country's electoral commission.

The vote passed off peacefully and for the first time in a decade included all of the country's main political players, providing hope that Ivory Coast has begun to emerge from recent turbulence.

It was a key test of stability following the violence surrounding October's presidential vote, which was boycotted by the opposition and claimed 87 lives.

The main opposition PDCI has however alleged electoral fraud, while the FPI party of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo had called on its supporters to remain calm and await the official results.

Tuesday's results showed the largest opposition grouping will be a coalition formed by PDCI members and Gbagbo supporters, which won 50 seats.

READ: Ivory Coast Minister to meet ex-President Gbagbo to discuss return

One seat remains unfilled in the 255-seat assembly due to the death of a candidate in a northern constituency, where an election will be held within a month.

Turnout was 37.88 %, the same as in the last legislative elections in 2016.

"The RHDP has succeeded in tipping many regions in its favour and it is in the process of acquiring the status of a national party, beyond its traditional strongholds in the north of the country," political scientist Sylvain N'Guessan said ahead of the complete results but with partial results known.

The PDCI opposition, the party of ex-president Henri Konan Bedie, "seems to be losing momentum," he said.

The return of Gbagbo's FPI, or Ivorian Popular Front, which participated after a decade of boycott, "did not have a great influence on either the score or the turnout," said N'Guessan.

GBAGBO ARREST

The FPI had boycotted all polls since the arrest of Gbagbo in 2011 in Abidjan and his subsequent transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

His arrest followed violence after the 2010 presidential election that left 3,000 dead.

Gbagbo was acquitted in January 2019 and is now living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal, though he has announced plans to return home.

Ouattara has recently reached out to his old foe in a bid for "national reconciliation" and issued Gbagbo with two passports, one of them a diplomatic pass.

The 79-year-old president had ignited political unrest last year when he announced he would seek a third term in office - a scheme that critics said sidestepped constitutional limits.

For the legislative elections, the BDCI formed an alliance with Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS), a coalition including supporters of Gbagbo and dominated by his FPI.

The arrangement won the EDS 50 seats.

PDCI candidates separately won 23 seats; pro-Gbagbo candidates won eight; and minor opposition parties won 10, which brought the overall opposition tally to 91 seats. Independent candidates won 26 seats.

Ouattara's RHDP wrested several former strongholds of the PDCI, including in the capital Yamoussoukro.

Gbagbo's eldest son, Michel, was elected in the constituency of Yopougon in Abidjan, the country's largest.

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