Noting Ivorians’ desire for peaceful elections in 2015, an international delegation fielded by NDI has completed a one-week mission to assess preparations for Cote d’Ivoire’s 2015 presidential polls.
Invited by the government of Cote d’Ivoire, the group was welcomed by all major Ivorian political parties and included members from Africa, Europe and North America. The delegation was co-led by former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark and Brian Atwood, former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and professor at the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota.
The mission was intended to support Ivorian electoral reform efforts aimed at ensuring a peaceful and credible election. Delegation members met with political, civic and religious leaders across a broad spectrum of society, the independent election commission and representatives of government and the international community. These included the constitutional council, the Ministry of Interior, the National Assembly, the National Institute of Statistics (INS), the National Identification Office (ONI), and the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI). The delegation also met with President Alassane Ouattara.
Ivorians shared with the delegation their eagerness to see concrete steps to guarantee peaceful elections. There was broad agreement among all those with whom the delegation met on the need for genuine dialogue on such steps as: reconfiguration of the independent election commission; clarification of legal framework issues; updating of the electoral list; addressing issues around mapping of electoral districts; and instituting confidence building measures that would create a conducive environment for credible and peaceful elections.
There was apprehension that the history of crises around past presidential elections could undermine the potential for genuine elections in 2015. The delegation heard complaints with regards to the security environment, insufficient political dialogue, and selective application of justice. Without further confidence building measures and consensus on an electoral framework, even a technically well-run election could still lead to violence.
The delegation was encouraged that all major actors expressed urgency and willingness to move the process forward through more productive dialogue. There is a recognition among all election stakeholders that the presidential poll is only 22 months away. As one Ivorian stated, “2015 is tomorrow.”
In the coming weeks, NDI will issue the delegation’s report, including recommendations. The report will build on the expertise and extensive experience of members of the delegation, and research by Institute staff into electoral frameworks in other countries.
The delegation appreciated the openness with which Ivorians expressed their hopes as well as their concerns with regard to the 2015 elections. “Ivorian efforts to rebuild their electoral process deserve support and encouragement,” said Clark. “There is a push for dialogue and reform that needs maintaining.”
Atwood, recently the chair of the Development Assistance Committee, the donors’ coordinating body, urged the international community to “provide the resources needed over the next 22 months to help the Ivorian government, political parties and civil society to conduct a credible and peaceful electoral process.”
NDI thanks Ivorians who met with the delegation for their openness and commitment to peaceful polls.
The mission was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy.
In addition to Clark and Atwood, the delegation included Anne Deysine of Paris X, Nanterre University; Charles Djrekpo, former member of parliament in Benin and former chairman of the Beninese Electoral Commission; Christopher Fomunyoh, senior associate and regional director for Central and West Africa at NDI; Fernando Marques da Costa, former member of the parliament of Portugal and former political advisor to the president of Portugal; Pat Merloe, senior associate and director of electoral programs at NDI; and Sophia Moestrup, deputy director for Central and West Africa at NDI.
Published Dec. 15, 2013