November 4, 2010 1:10 am
Just after midnight, the head of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), Youssouf Bakayoko, finally announced what everyone here had figured out themselves by piecing together the numbers. The run-off will be between outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo of the FPI Party and opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara of the RDR Party.
Gbagbo came in first with 38.3% of the vote. Ouattara was second with 33.08%. Former president Bedié received 25.24% of the votes cast. Bedié's PDCI, the former single party in the country, made a statement questioning the results and asking for a recount.
Voters here in Korhogo, in the northern part of the country, were intensely disappointed today as 80% support Ouattara. They had hoped that the rest of the country would follow their lead and that Ouattara, whom everyone calls Ado, would win in the first round.
Ivorians were worn out with waiting. Many sat listlessly Wednesday, unable to concentrate on anything but why the results were taking so long. Even the favorite Ivorian pastime of sharing conspiracy theories and rumors lost its lustre. Anxious observers criticized the slow announcement and urged the CEI to get moving.
Overall, the election went amazingly well. Election observers here from the Carter Center and the European Union noted only minor infractions. Even the slow announcement of results, they remarked unofficially, was the result of disorganization rather than any intention to deceive.
Eighty percent of Ivorians turned out to vote, and in some places, the percentage was as high as 86%. Election day was animated by a remarkable spirit of mutual respect and civic determination. After nearly ten years of crisis, Ivorians flocked to classrooms turned into polling places to cast their ballots for a peaceful reunification of their country. They desperately want a return to normal life and to restart the engine of their stalled economy.