Victor Lopes, +9714 508 4884
Standard Chartered Bank, Dubai Economist Victor.Lopes@sc.com
Côte d’Ivoire – So near and yet so far
15:00 GMT 24 February 2010
A new government has been announced and elections have been delayed until May 2010 This follows the dissolution of the government and the Electoral Commission that led to unrest While a major setback forthe electoral process, it does not mean the end of the peace process Election delays could lead to delayed debt restructuring and prevent an economic rebound; we cut our 2010 growth forecast to 3%, from 5% previously
New government, new election delays
Long-awaited elections in Côte d’Ivoire have suffered a serious setback as the process will be delayed following the dissolution of thegovernment on 12 February and the subsequent unrest that has already resulted in injuries and deaths. The recent controversy surrounding the Electoral Commission’s inclusion of 429,000 potentially ineligible names on the electoral list triggered considerable tension between the presidency and the opposition. The president of the Electoral Commission (from an opposition party) refused to resign, amidopposition claims that this was a political manoeuvre by President Gbagbo to delay the elections (which were scheduled to be held in March). Although the Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro (a former rebel spokesman), removed the disputed names, this was not enough to avert the postponement of the elections. Arguing that free and fair elections could not be held following this incident, President Gbagbodissolved the government, as well as the Electoral Commission. The latter move might reflect the president’s possible desire to weaken the opposition, which holds several portfolios in the National Unity government (resulting from the Ouagadougou agreements signed in 2007) and, importantly, has several members on the Electoral Commission in charge of the highly sensitive compilation of the electorallist. Also, despite being ahead in the polls, and having greater financial resources than his opponents, the president might not be totally convinced of his ability to win, and therefore could be unwilling to hold elections until he is sure of a favourable outcome. This is a major set back for the electoral process, but is not the end of the peace process. The Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro,remains in place. While this is the case – and even if there is some dissent among the former rebels – a resurgence of a full-scale conflict, such as that seen in 2002, is unlikely. The president of Burkina-Faso, Blaise Compoaré – the sponsor of the peace agreements – visited Côte d’Ivoire and, through his mediation, the main parties agreed to hold elections by ”end April-beginning of May” and theopposition (which initially said it no longer recognised Gbagbo’s legitimacy and called for civil disobedience) consented to be part of the new government.
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On the Ground | 24 February 2010
The composition of the new governmentwas announced on 23 February. However, of the 27 ministers who comprise the government, only 16 have been named (many of whom were already in place, e.g. the defence, interior and economy ministers) as the opposition is waiting for the formation of the Electoral Commission before joining the government. Blaise Compoaré appears to have brokered a deal on the composition of the new ElectoralCommission, which is to be announced later this week, but this is a potentially contentious issue. The level of unrest has been limited so far, compared with what we have seen in the past. It appears that the opposition has not been able to strongly mobilise the population and the situation has been relatively quiet in Abidjan. That said, this event highlights the tensions within the political...