Cote d'Ivoire Presidential Run-Off Election: High Voter Turnout Amid Political Tension

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In Abidjan: Oley Cole, +225 57 64 59 86
In Atlanta: Deborah Hakes +1-404-420-5124 or

Abidjan... The Carter Center found high voter turnout for the presidential run-off election in Cote d'Ivoire despite an often tense and sometimes violent political campaign. The Center notes with special concern that several deaths occurred in election day violence and calls on the two presidential candidates, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, to remind their supporters of the need to wait for the announcement of results without further incident.

The Carter Center will continue to observe the completion of the tabulation of results and reminds the candidates and their supporters of the right of voters to choose their own leaders without fear of reprisal in the best interests of the nation's future. The Center also calls on national authorities to maintain strict neutrality in their conduct of their duties and for political actors to respect these responsibilities.

Key Carter Center observations included:

  • The election campaign for the run-off was marked by increased political tension among Cote d'Ivoire's various ethnic and regional groups. Documented incidents of violence and intimidation occurred across the country. Confrontations between the supporters of the two candidates were especially heated in Abidjan, prompting the Nov. 27 decision by the president to implement a nationwide curfew. This announcement, without consultation of other political actors, sharpened an already tense political environment.
  • The Carter Center notes the responsibility of the candidates, their supporters, and the politically-affiliated media for their contributions to the creation of this charged political climate. To varying degrees, their negative and confrontational campaigning fueled the suspicion and hostility among their two camps.
  • The live candidate debate was a positive development and the Center appreciated the civility and respect demonstrated by the candidates. They should be held accountable for their pledges to accept the results.
  • The Center is encouraged by the efforts of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to correct some of the weaknesses observed in election administration during the Oct. 31 election, especially in logistical operations and the training of election officials with the important support of international partners.
  • Despite the restrictions on mobility and association posed by the curfew, the polls opened on election day with limited delays and polling station workers generally administered voting without major irregularities. Observers reported improvement in the quality of decisions regarding ballot validity, strengthening the quality of the counting process. Important procedural irregularities were noted, including management of the voter list, failure to check consistently for indelible ink on voter's fingers, and inking the voter's fingers after they voted.
  • With some exceptions, including the national election commission, Carter Center observers obtained access to the tabulation process at various IEC offices throughout the country.
  • Serious election crimes were committed, including the destruction of election materials, voter intimidation, and ballot box theft. While the gravity of these incidents should not be overlooked, The Carter Center cautions against a rush to judgment regarding the overall credibility of the election. Authorities, however, must investigate these incidents, and their perpetrators should be held responsible, in accordance with the law.
  • Both campaigns have been prone to provocative claims against the other and should base any election complaints on evidence. Although the formal adjudication of election petitions is the responsibility of the Constitutional Council, the IEC national president and members can help to stem rumors through the timely publication of detailed provisional results.
  • Following the IEC's announcement of provisional results, the Constitutional Council will have the responsibility to review any petitions submitted by candidates, where the Center trusts they will be handled promptly and transparently to serve the best interests of all Ivoirian voters.

Read the full preliminary report (PDF) >

The Carter Center has been present in Cote d'Ivoire since December 2007 and launched a formal election observation mission following an invitation from Prime Minister Guillaume Soro in October 2008. Ten long-term observers were deployed throughout the country in early-October to assess election preparations. For election day, the Center deployed a total delegation of 50 observers from 23 countries to observe voting and counting. Carter Center observers continue to assess the conclusion of vote tabulation and will remain in Cote d'Ivoire to observe the post-election environment. The mission is assessing Cote d'Ivoire's electoral process against the Constitution and the electoral law, commitments made in the Ouagadougou Peace Accords, other agreements, and regional and international commitments.[i] The Center's observation mission is conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.

[i] Cote d'Ivoire is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States and has ratified a number of international treaties with provisions regarding electoral processes, including ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (signed Dec. 2001); the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR signed June 11, 2009); the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR ratified March 26, 1992); and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW ratified Jul. 17, 1980, signed Dec. 1995).

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