Blog | Voters Show Enthusiasm, Patience in Cote d'Ivoire Elections

Deborah Hakes is assistant director of public information for The Carter Center.

Outside a polling station in north Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, hundreds of people waited behind closed gates for voting to begin. Women and the elderly sat on chairs they had brought or on the ground. By the time our team of observers arrived at 10 a.m., three hours after polling should have begun, voters were growing anxious in the baking sun. Some had gotten there at 4 or 5 that morning.

They remained patient, though eager for information about when they could vote, but suddenly turned around and began to clap as former Ghana President John Kufuor, co-leader of the Carter Center’s observation mission, walked through the crowd to enter the polling station.

Voters wait outside closed gates in Cote d'Ivoire

Voters waiting outside closed gates in Abidjan turn around and clap for former Ghana President John Kufuor. (All photos by Deborah Hakes)

“John Kufuor stands for democracy,” one voter said. “He handed over power peacefully.  He will help us be able to vote.”

Another said: “He set a good example for Africa. Ghana has principles, rules, and Kufuor followed them.”

In choosing leaders for its election observation missions, The Carter Center seeks out such respected individuals who bring extra credibility to its work observing troubled elections.

President John Kufuor talks with media at a polling station during Sunday’s election.

Voters wait in long lines to vote in Abidjan, anxiously seeking information.

Yesterday’s presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire was the first chance for Ivoirians to choose their leader in ten years and the freest and most competitive contest since the country’s 1960 independence from France.

The Center’s 50 observers have so far reported that voters were overwhelmingly peaceful, eager, and generally patient despite polling delays and various logistical problems. Observers remain deployed to witness the vote tabulation. The Carter Center will announce its preliminary findings in a statement tomorrow.

Here are some other images from across Abidjan on election day.

Political party observers rest on benches (right) during a long delay in their poll station opening on Sunday.

A woman checks in to vote on Sunday.

Early morning on election day, voters wait in line.

The first voter at one polling station in Abidjan checks in around 7:15 a.m.

Four party observers wait for polls to open during a long delay Sunday morning.

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