Crucial election today
Today will be a tense day in Côte d’Ivoire as around 5.7 million voters go to the polls to choose 255 members of the National Assembly for the first time since 2000/2001.
The winners are almost certain to be the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA) of President Alassane Ouattara. His party is contesting the most seats and hopes to increase their tally from 94 in the last parliament.
The party of Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), has said it will boycott the poll, although some of its members have gone against the party leaders and are standing for election. Gbagbo himself is currently on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) facing charges against humanity. In the 2000/2001 poll the FPI emerged as the largest party with 96 seats.
There are 943 candidates standing today for the 225 seats, of those 499 are independents. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time.
If peaceful elections take place today then Côte d’Ivoire has a strong chance of continuing its progress back to peace and away from the near civil war which broke out earlier this year over the disputed 2010 presidential election.