On the 31st of October, Ivorians will go vote for their future president in a challenging context. Between the division among the population, fears from the return of chaos, and an economic situation impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country seems close to implosion.
By Issiaka N’Guessan in Abidjan
The election is a new crisis step in a country that experienced a rebellion, an effective partition of the country into two zones from the 19th of September 2002, followed by a severe post-electoral crisis until 2011. And the country remains divided, as Geoffroy-Julien Kouao, political scientist, explains it. He fears an intensification of the “social divide” after this election that the opposition boycotts. “This election indicates the refusal of democracy by politicians since 1990. Without opposition, the issue remains the participation rate. In any case, this vote will intensify the social and political divides. It is a democratical mess,” he explains.
The solution search to the political crisis comes from the ECOWAS, and its mission led by the Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Btchwey. She urged “candidates at the presidential from the PDCI and the FPI to seriously reconsider their decision to boycott the election and the call for their supporters’ civil disobedience to protest the electoral process. And rather, to work seriously to reach an agreement on the electoral process since nobody could be in a position to control excess which could come from the civil disobedience.” On its side, the Ivorian government multiplies initiatives to discuss. After a first missed appointment on the 17th of October, another one should happen on the 21st of October in the Prime Minister office.
“As long as this story lasts, we’ll not get out of it”
For now, in Ivory Coast, nobody is going out, as a taxi driver explains: “The presidential election is bad for business. As long as this story lasts, we’ll not get out of it.” In the Koumassi industrial area (south of Abidjan), Mohamed, a Lebanese who manages a plastic shoe production company, says: “The activity slows down since the crisis started, and it is the same everywhere. Every business is concerned from Koumassi to Cocody. Clients are going back home. They say they will come back after the election. So right now, the activity is reduced to a crawl, nothing works.” One more hit for a country where the poverty rate reaches 37,2%. Nevertheless, it experienced a relaunch of the economic activities for the last nine years, but that doesn’t hide the social inequalities. Roads have been built, but as Ivorians say: “We don’t eat roads.”
The growth rate grew up since 2012 to reach 8% in 2018. “Despite the global situation due to Covid-19, the growth rate will be of 2%”, the presidency’s secretary-general said. An optimism that is not shared at all among the population. We can see a gloom on the field, especially now it is impossible to circulate, and with the breakage of transportation like what happens on the 20th of October in Yopogoun. Taxis and mass transportation have been set on fire by unidentified people.