See also:
» 06.05.2011 - Ouattara now formally Ivorian President
» 08.12.2010 - Pressure mounts against Côte d'Ivoire "coup"
» 03.12.2010 - Gbagbo "coup" in Côte d'Ivoire
» 02.12.2010 - Opposition wins Côte d'Ivoire poll
» 02.12.2010 - Clashes as Côte d'Ivoire poll results blocked
» 30.11.2010 - High turnout at Côte d'Ivoire poll
» 02.11.2010 - Ivorian elections so far successful
» 15.10.2010 - No lifting of Côte d'Ivoire sanctions

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Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire gears up for run-off poll

Alassane Ouattara campaigning for the Ivorian presidency

© RHDP/afrol News
afrol News, 17 November
- In less than two weeks, Ivorians are to decide whether incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo or northerner Alassane Ouattara will become the next President. So far, both focus campaigns on their strongholds.

President Gbagbo, in power since 2000, is campaigning in Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire, and its hinterlands. Mr Ouattara, a former Prime Minister, is focusing his campaign in the north of the country, which has been split off from the south since a 2002 civil war.

The two experienced Ivorian politicians won most of the votes in the 31 October first round of the elections, but both failed to reach 50 percent. Both men have similar political platforms, with President Gbagbo traditionally leaning towards the left.

But it is not the political message that divides the two candidates. It is Mr Gbagbo's origin in the mostly Christian south and Mr Ouattara's origin in the Muslim north. This difference will motivate most of Ivorian voters on 28 November, as other northern and southern candidates are out of the race.

President Gbagbo in the first round gained most votes in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire's busy metropolis which houses almost one third of the country's voters. His main challenger in Abidjan during the first round was ex-President Henri Konan Bédié, also a southerner. Mr Bédié came third in the first round, getting 25.25 percent of the national vote.

Mr Gbagbo now is trying to convince Bédié voters to support him in the upcoming poll. While the incumbent may convince those Bédié voters rejecting a northerner in the presidency, many are expected to abstain in the run-off due to earlier v

President Laurent Gbagbo meeting the press during the 2010 presidential election campaign

© Jonas O/Campaigne Gbabo/afrol News
iolent clashes between followers of the two men's parties.

But also Mr Ouattara may count on some support from Abidjan voters. Abidjan is also the largest city of Ivorian northerners, although many fled the city during the clashes after the 2002 civil war.

Mr Ouattara meanwhile is focusing his campaign in the north. This week, he participated in the traditional Muslim Eid celebrations - called the Tabaski party in Côte d'Ivoire - with an ample media presence. The northern leader strongly demonstrated his statesmanish manners.

The big question is who will be able to conquer the three provinces won by Mr Bédié in the first round: south-western Bas-Sassandra and central Lacs and N'Zi-Comoé. Traditionally these should go to a southern candidate, but Mr Bédié has so far been more supportive of Mr Ouattara. A strong message of support from Mr Bédié could indeed turn the vote.

In the first round, President Gbagbo won 38.05 percent of the vote, while Mr Ouattara came second with 32.08 of the vote. If Ivorians exclusively vote along the north-south divide on 28 November, President Gbagbo will become the clear winner. An opinion poll has also registered a 60-40 percent divide among Ivorians in favour of President Gbagbo.

However, the same opinion pollers had strongly underestimated Mr Ouattara's support ahead of the first round. And in the end, all will depend on how Mr Bédié's voters decide in ten days.

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