With much hope and little evidence, optimistic Ivorians say that events are moving relentlessly towards some sort of political normalisation in Côte d’Ivoire – for the first time since the foiled coup against President Laurent Gbagbo in September 2002. That split the country in two: the South ruled by Gbagbo’s Front Populaire Ivoirien and the north ruled by the rebel Forces Nouvelles, which had set up its own ‘comzones’ to run the region. Now both sides are edging towards political and military integration.
At long last, a date has been set for the overdue election. On 17 May in Ouagadougou, President Laurent Koudou Gbagbo promised that 29 November was 'sure', but few really share that certainty. The necessary census should be completed by the end of June and an electoral register published in September (AC Vol 49 Nos 14 & 22). After mediation by the government of Burkina Faso, this was agreed by Ivorian political leaders, including the former Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara (ADO), of the mainly northern and Muslim Rassemblement des Républicains (RDR), who was prevented from standing in 2000. Also present were Henri Konan Bédié of the Parti Démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), President in 1993-99, who was also excluded from the poll in 2000; and the serving Premier, Guillaume Kigbafori Soro, Secretary General of the Mouvement Patriotique de Côte d'Ivoire (MPCI) and leader of the formerly rebel Forces Nouvelles (FN).
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