Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No winner, no loser, no results...

As Billy Billy sings, “Changement, Bloquage!” We are stuck at bloquage.

Before the first round of this election, the International Crisis Group warned that of all the possible run-off scenarios, the riskiest would be Gbagbo-Ouattara. In Abidjan, in Korhogo, and even here in the Midwestern US, in the first snow of the season, Ivorians and all of us who care about Ivory Coast are holding our breath…

“Surreal,” said the anchor on France 24 before she played the video of what happened yesterday at the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI). As the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission got ready to announce results in his mellifluous baritone, two pro-Gbagbo members of the commission stood up and protested the announcement. As the spokesman watched in disbelief and the cameras whirred, one grabbed the sheets and walked away with them, tearing them up as he went.

The deadline to announce results--midnight Wednesday--has passed. The French, the Americans, the EU, the UN--everyone is urging the immediate announcement of the results. Between the lines of diplomatic language, perhaps the real message is, "Man up, Gbagbo, and admit defeat!" His response was to extend the curfew until Monday morning.

Gbagbo’s party, the LMP, wants the votes from the north invalidated. The Carter Center, the European Union, and the African Union all had observers in the north and all have judged the election, although not ideal, sufficiently transparent. The representative of the UN concurs.

If you look at the numbers, it’s clear that unfortunate as the problematic incidents were, they could not have changed the outcome. The numbers are essentially the same as the first round, which everyone agrees went impeccably. In the Savanes region (departments of Korhogo, Boundiali, Ferkéssedougou, and Tengrela), Gbagbo received 19, 312 votes in the first round, 6.5% of the vote. In the second round, he received 21, 203 votes or 6.45% of the vote. His percentage went down slightly while Ouattara’s percentage rose from 85.9% to 93.5%. This makes sense because the percentage of invalidated ballots went down from 6.6% to 1.3%. Most of those votes (16,635), cast correctly in the second round, probably went to Ouattara. Ouattara also picked up the votes of those who voted in the first round for Bedié and the eleven other candidates. Nevertheless, despite the intimidation his party claims, Gbagbo gained 1891 votes in the second round.

The rebellion happened in large part because northerners resented being excluded from the political process. To invalidate their votes now would doom the peace process and take the country back to more years of division and instability.

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