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Saturday 10 December 2016

Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara wins re-election in landslide

Published 28/10/2015 | 06:01

Alassane Ouattara after he voted in the election in Abidjan (AP)
Alassane Ouattara after he voted in the election in Abidjan (AP)

Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara easily won re-election in the first vote since a disputed poll five years ago sparked violence that killed thousands in the West African economic powerhouse.

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He received nearly 84% of Sunday's vote, trouncing the opposition, according Youssouf Bakayoko, the head of the electoral commission.

Mr Ouattara needed to get more than 50% to avoid a run-off.

The results will now be sent to the constitutional court to be validated.

Mr Ouattara was the heavy favourite long before the campaign began, and he said the vote had allowed Ivory Coast to "turn the page on the crisis our country went through" after the election five years ago.

In that contest, he defeated ex-president Laurent Gbagbo in a run-off, but Gbagbo refused to step down, leading to violence that killed more than 3,000 people and dragged on until his arrest in April 2011.

Gbagbo is set to go on trial next month for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

This time around, Mr Ouattara faced a divided opposition that failed to gain traction.

He campaigned on the impressive economic rebound he has overseen since taking office in May 2011, though critics say ordinary Ivorians have not benefited much from the growth and that post-conflict reconciliation has been minimal.

The second-place finisher with 9% was Pascal Affi N'Guessan, the candidate of Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front political party.

A large faction of the party had withheld its support for Mr N'Guessan, calling him a traitor to Gbagbo and predicting the vote would be rigged.

Voting on Sunday was peaceful and largely smooth, though many polling stations opened late as workers waited on materials to arrive, according to an Ivorian-led civil society mission that deployed more than 2,000 observers.

The mission said on Monday that no major incidents compromised the process, and the US Embassy said the vote appeared to have been "peaceful, transparent, credible and inclusive".

The turnout of more than 54% was below the roughly 80% recorded in the first round in 2010, though that election was long-delayed and closely contested.

During the campaign, Mr Ouattara vowed to focus on problems such as youth unemployment while promoting justice and reconciliation.

Press Association

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