Ivory Coast elections : Gbagbo and Ouattara to lock horns in runoff bid

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Ivory Coast’s presidential electoral is heading toward a second round runoff because no candidate won more than half of the votes cast Sunday. The country’s current president and its former prime minister led a field of 14 candidates.

Electoral commission President Youssouf Bakayoko announced the provisional results on state-run television, just minutes past the commission’s Midnight deadline.

President Laurent Gbagbo won about 38 percent of the vote and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara won just over 32 percent. So they will face off in a second round run off later this month because neither man won an outright majority of the more than four million votes cast.

Former President Henri Konan Bedie finished third with about 25 percent of the vote. His party is already questioning the fairness of the process.

The election is meant to reunite the country, eight years after the start of civil war. The vote was held in areas under government control and in parts of the north that remain under the command of a former rebel movement.

Three days of waiting for results added to the country’s political tensions, with many shops in Abidjan’s Treichville commercial neighborhood closed and people stockpiling food and fuel in case of violence. But the city has been quiet.

The United Nations congratulated the people of Ivory Coast for their conduct during this election. There were no major problems reported. Voter turnout was nearly 80 percent.

The race now for the second round clearly focuses on winning over the one-quarter of voters who cast their ballots for Bedie. Before the vote, Ouattara and Bedie publicly pledged to back the other in a head-to-head race against Mr. Gbagbo. But the president may be able to attract Bedie supporters who are uncomfortable with Ouattara.

The former prime minister was previously prevented from running for president because of questions about his nationality. Ouattara comes from northern Ivory Coast where many people are descendants of immigrants from Burkina Faso and Mali.

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