Côte d’Ivoire: November 29 set for Ivorian elections

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“The electoral college of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivorians, editor’s note) is summoned to go to the polls on 29 November 2009 in order to elect their President. The polls will open at 7 am and close at 5 pm” said Guillaume Soro, Ivorian Prime Minister, as he revealed, Thursday, excerpts from a presidential decree signed by President Laurent Gbagbo.

The announcement for the long overdue elections comes one year after the latest of several election deadlines were dumped. “For the government, the difference between this set date and last year’s” according the Mr. Soro is its “realistic” nature. He has promised to make sure that disarmament and voter registration are completed in time.

So far, “recruitment operations have allowed more than 6 million citizens register with their (respective, editor’s note) polling stations and have now become potential voters (…) 70% of the electorate is expected to vote,” Guillaume Soro continued.

The Ivorian Prime Minister also indicated that measures have been taken to “ensure that voting takes place in peace and calm” with “the redeployment of security forces across the country.” Similarly, he assured all and sundry that the State would make the necessary financial resources available to the Independent Electoral Commission to enable it carry out its mission.

According to Alphonse Djédjé Mady, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), “It is a positive step to have set a date. Now, we want the date to be respected. We pushed for an election date and now everyone must accept this choice.”

“All this is to say that today, the Government and the Independent Electoral Commission, have both taken the necessary measures to ensure that the elections are held on the (expected) date”. Following the encouragements from the international community, Ivorian political parties hope that this final deadline will be respected. However, many Ivorians remain sceptical.

Expressing a general sentiment in the capital, Abidjan, Souleymane Doumbia, a shopkeeper in Abidjan told the UN news service, Irin, that “It is the day I will be at the polling station that I will say elections are happening. I have nothing else to say about this new election date because there is no telling it will be the last.”

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