Ivory Coast's Ouattara wins re-election

  • 28/10/2015
Alassane Ouattara (Reuters)
Alassane Ouattara (Reuters)

Alassane Ouattara has been re-elected as president of Ivory Coast, official results show, in a vote seen as key to cementing the west African country's bid to overcome a history of electoral violence.

The 73-year-old won a second term outright by garnering almost 84 percent of ballots in the first round of polls on Sunday (local time), when more than half of voters turned out despite calls for a boycott by some opposition candidates.

Ouattara, who had been widely tipped to win, has been credited with reviving the country's war-scarred economy, but also accused of creeping authoritarianism.

His main challenger was ex-prime minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan, who garnered just 9.29 percent of ballots and ran on behalf of the Ivorian Popular Front, the party of former leader Laurent Gbagbo.

Ouattara unseated Gbagbo in 2010, but the then president refused to concede defeat, sparking a wave of violence which left about 3000 people dead.

Gbagbo was eventually defeated by pro-Ouattara forces, backed by the UN and France, who dragged him from a bunker under the presidential residence where he had hidden for days.

He is now awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court in Hague for crimes against humanity over atrocities committed in the five-month conflict.

Commentators had questioned whether people would head to the polls after the violence, but Ivory Coast's electoral commission said 54.63 percent of those eligible had voted.

The process won praise from observers as being fair and peaceful and the president of the national electoral commission, the CEI, said that after the vote "the crisis of 2010 is behind us".

Before the official results were announced on Wednesday, the National Coalition for Change, which represents two presidential candidates, had put the turnout figure at 20 percent, calling the vote a "parody".

Ouattara had said a high turnout would be key to cementing his mandate for another five-year term from the 23 million people registered to vote across the country.

The streets of the capital were quiet on Wednesday morning after news of the results, in stark contrast to the violence that plagued Abidjan after the last vote.

In third place in Sunday's vote was Kouadio Konan Bertin with 3.88 percent. One of the principal opposition candidates, he had already conceded defeat on Monday and congratulated Ouattara.

A peaceful and credible election was seen as crucial to help Ivory Coast recover its former status as a beacon of progress and prosperity in the region.

With growth at around nine per cent, Ouattara, a prominent economist and former deputy head of the International Monetary Fund, had staked his campaign on his economic track record.

He has also promised to reform the constitution and submit the changes to a public referendum.