Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Ivory Coast referendum: ‘Yes’ vote wins with 93%

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Isaac Kaledzihttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.
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Electoral officials in Ivory Coast say the “yes” campaign has won Sunday’s referendum on a new constitution, with 93.42% of the votes.

The turnout was 42.42%, which is higher than an earlier 7% estimate by opposition parties that boycotted the polls.

Backed by President Alassane Ouattara, the new constitution scraps a requirement that both parents of presidential candidates must be native-born Ivorians.

 

Ouattara's supporters have been vocal in backing the constitutional reform process
Ouattara’s supporters have been vocal in backing the constitutional reform process

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Opponents accuse Mr Ouattara of using it as a way to hand-pick his successor.

In the lead-up to the referendum, there were street protests by opposition supporters against the constitutional reforms.

What is the most important change?

The most important change is contained in an article that removes the age limit of 75 and scraps the requirement that both parents of presidential candidates must be native-born Ivorians.

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President Ouattara, 74, will be over the current age limit at the end of his current term.

Initially, some of his critics accused him of trying to stay in power himself but the draft retains a ban on third terms, so he cannot seek re-election.

The new nationality rules are also intended to remove the concept of “Ivoirite” from the constitution.

 

What is ‘Ivoirite’?

The concept was initially forged in the 1940s in academic and student circles to promote national pride and identity.

But in the years following the death in 1993 of Houphouet Boigny, the country’s first post-independence president, the concept was hijacked and turned into a political weapon against opponents of President Henry Konan Bedie.

Ivory Coast was relatively stable and prospered economically under Felix Houphouet-Boigny's three decades in power
Ivory Coast was relatively stable and prospered economically under Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s three decades in power

From then on, “Ivoirite” was used to stress ethnic and religious differences between natives of the West African state, setting subjective criteria for who can be considered to be “genuinely” Ivorian.

Many northerners, who are mostly Muslims and from the Dioula ethnic group, felt the concept was being used to politically marginalise them.

In 1999, Mr Ouattara, a Muslim and a Dioula, was banned from standing in the presidential race on the grounds that his parents came from Burkina Faso, which he denies.

That led to a flare-up of social and political tension, and soon Ivory Coast experienced its first military coup, and then a civil war which led to a north-south split of the country.

 

AFP
The divisive issue of “Ivority” plunged Ivory Coast into a decade-long civil war

 

Mr Ouattara won the presidential election in 2010 but his opponent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to stand down, sparking months of conflict.

Pro-Ouattara forces, backed by France, eventually won and he promised to resolve the issue of “Ivoirite” once and for all.

He has billed his constitutional reform as an opportunity for Ivory Coast to turn the page after many years of strife and instability

 

Source: BBC

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