17 February 2012 The senior United Nations official in Côte d’Ivoire announced today the partial certification of legislative elections, saying the polls “constitute an important step in the entrenchment of democracy” in the West African country.
Bert Koenders, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), issued a statement in Abidjan in which he said “that all the conditions necessary for the holding of open, free, fair, just and transparent elections were met” in 193 of the 204 parliamentary constituencies where polls were held.
The results of the other 11 constituencies were annulled by the Constitutional Council after complaints were lodged over irregularities, and by-elections will be held for those seats.
Mr. Koenders, who is tasked by the Security Council with the responsibility for certification, said the elections met five key criteria: the electoral process was largely peaceful; it was inclusive for both voters and candidates; State media, after a “timid” start, were impartial and gave equal access to all candidates and political parties; authorities confirmed the electoral list of voters that was widely agreed upon; and the results were “generally free, fair and transparent.”
Mr. Koenders added that important institutions such as the Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council improved their functioning as well.
“I welcome the fact that, after last year’s crisis, the Ivorian people, in their majority, were able to exercise their right to vote in calm and in a peaceful environment.”
Months of deadly fighting ensued when the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing a run-off election to Alassane Ouattara in late 2010. Mr. Gbagbo was eventually captured last year and is now facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In his statement Mr. Koenders said that nevertheless “much remains to be done,” adding that it was vital for political parties and candidates to behave responsibly during by-elections slated for 26 February and for the media to make extra efforts to avoid “any potential sources of dispute” from being fanned.
“In the next few days I shall contact the governmental authorities as well as the institutions concerned so as to draw the appropriate lessons from the just-ended exercise in order to better manage the upcoming by-elections.”
Today, UNOCI said it had completed the transport of equipment such as voting booths and ballot boxes to those constituencies where the by-elections will be held later this month.
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