Alassane Ouattara easily wins Ivory Coast election

Alassane Ouattara, left, with ally Konan Bedie Henri. Picture: AFP/Getty

Alassane Ouattara, left, with ally Konan Bedie Henri. Picture: AFP/Getty

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Ivory Coast’s president Alassane Ouattara easily won re-election in the first vote since a disputed poll five years ago sparked violence that killed thousands in the West African economic powerhouse, the electoral commission has announced.

Mr Ouattara received nearly 84 per cent of votes cast on Sunday, according to results read out by commission head, Youssouf Bakayoko. He needed to get more than 50 per cent to avoid a run-off.

The results will now be sent to the constitutional court to be validated, Mr Bakayoko said.

Mr Ouattara was the favourite to win long before the campaign began. As the country awaited official tallies, he said the vote had allowed Ivory Coast to “turn the page on the crisis our country went through” after the election five years ago.

In that contest, Mr Ouattara defeated former president Laurent Gbagbo in a run-off but Gbagbo refused to step down, leading to violence that killed more than 3,000 people and dragged on until Gbagbo’s arrest in April 2011. Gbagbo is set to go on trial next month for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

This time around, Mr Ouattara faced a divided opposition. He campaigned on the impressive economic rebound he has overseen since taking office in May 2011, though critics say ordinary Ivorians have not benefited much from the growth and that post-conflict reconciliation has been minimal.

In second place with 9 per cent was Pascal Affi N’Guessan, the candidate of Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front party. A large faction of the party had withheld its support for N’Guessan, calling him a traitor to Gbagbo and predicting the vote would be rigged.

Voting on Sunday was peaceful and largely uneventful, though many polling stations opened late as workers waited on materials to arrive, according to an Ivorian-led civil society mission that sent out more than 2,000 observers.

The mission said on Monday that no major incidents had compromised the process, and the American embassy said in a statement that the vote appeared to have been “peaceful, transparent, credible and inclusive”.

The turnout of just about 54 per cent was below the roughly 80 per cent recorded in the first round in 2010, though that election was long-delayed and closely contested.

The drop probably reflected the changed political landscape as well as residual fears of elections because of what happened last time, said Mariam Dao Gabala, president of the Coalition of Female Leaders of Ivory Coast and spokeswoman for the civil society observer mission.

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