Alassane Ouattara votes in Abidjan

By Abankula, with agency reporters

Ivory Coast citizens have ended voting in the presidential election on Saturday.
The polling stations opened from 8:00 GMT and voting lasted 10 hours until 18:00 GMT.

The election was largely boycotted in opposition stronghold.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), some 7.5 million people were expected to vote in 22,381 polling stations nationwide and 246 polling stations abroad.

Four candidates — Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, and two opposition candidates Henri Konan Bedie and Pascal Affi N’Guessan as well as Kouadio Konan Bertin, who run as an independent — were selected by the Constitutional Council for the ballot.

Alassane Ouattara waits for his Algerian wife, Dominique Folloroux-Ouattara to vote too

But N’Guessan and Konan Bédié, boycotted the election.

According to them, it is illegal for Ouattara to stand for a third term.

They also called for civil disobedience.

There were reports of disturbances in opposition strongholds on Saturday, with roads blocked and election material burned.

After voting in Abidjan, Mr Ouattara called for an end to the protests.

“I call on those who called for civil disobedience, which led to the loss of life, to stop,” he said.

“They should stop because Ivory Coast needs peace, these are criminal acts and we hope that all this can stop, so that after the election this country may continue on its course of progress, which it has enjoyed over the last few years.”

He also urged people to cast their ballots.

“I have just accomplished my civic duty. I ask all our citizens who love peace and patriotism to go and vote. It is an important day for democracy,” he said.

According to the constitution, Ivory Coast has a two-term presidential limit. Mr Ouattara – who has been elected twice – initially said he would stand down.

But, in July, the ruling party’s previous presidential nominee, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack.

Mr Ouattara subsequently announced that he would run for president after all.

His supporters argued that a constitutional change in 2016 reset the clock and that his first term did not count.

His opponents do not share that view, arguing instead that it is illegal for Mr Ouattara to run for a third term.

Nearly 35,000 security and defense forces were mobilized to secure the electoral process.

Their presence was very discreet in the early hours of voting in the streets and polling centres of Abidjan, the capital city.

Source: Xinhua and AFP