afrol News, 29 June - "Every country is voting, except for us," the Côte d'Ivoire newspaper 'Le Patriote' titles is current front page. Nobody follows Guinea's elections more thoroughly than the Ivorian press.
Côte d'Ivoire, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south, was supposed to hold the elections as far back as 2005. The polls have been repeatedly postponed, most recently to May 2010.
But again, the electoral process was stalled due to the political impasse in the country. The voter identification and most elections-related tasks have been nearly completed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). About 5.3 million Ivorians have been confirmed as voters and around 1 million people still need to be confirmed.
Since the end of 2009, the main political forces in Côte d'Ivoire have refused to cooperate on the final preparations for the elections. Political tensions began to mount after voter registration was suspended due to violence and President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved government and the IEC in February.
A new government and Electoral Commission have been established since then, but the Ivorian electoral process remains stalled owing to differences on how to address the issue of fraud and resume the interrupted appeals process on the provisional voters list.
Meanwhile, Ivorians can read daily updates of the rather successful and quick organisation of the first-ever democratic poll
Facsimile of the Ivorian newspaper 'Le Patriote' 28 June 2010: "Every country is voting, except for us"
in neighbouring Guinea - a country seen as underdeveloped and inferior by many Ivorians, earlier being proud of their regional leadership but also often being seen as arrogant by their neighbours.
The Ivorian press, both pro-government and pro-opposition, is bringing detailed information about the Guinean poll on a daily basis, often being better informed than the poorly developed Guinean press.
Ivorian readers have been able to follow the process of the Guinean Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), working rapidly to pull together a voters' list despite a very poor infrastructure, working in dialogue and agreement with political parties and civil society, and organising a poll without any violence throughout the country.
'Le Patriote' today can report from Conakry - earlier than any other media - that Guinea has experienced a "record turnout rate" during the weekend poll. Voter turnout had been "over 80 percent almost all over the country," with Conakry even reaching 86 percent.
So the question for Ivorians remains, "why cannot we manage the same?" The answer is bringing shame to the once so proud "elephant" nation - Côte d'Ivoire is now the only nation in West Africa in political chaos over an unresolved armed conflict.
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