An Ivory Coast presidential election must take place this year, President Laurent Gbagbo said yesterday in a switch of wording from previous statements insisting that a target November 29 date be maintained.
Speaking after discussions with senior Ivorian officials at a ceremony to hand over provisional voter lists for the long-delayed poll, Gbagbo said: “I told them the presidential election at least must take place in 2009.”
“For the rest we will see,” he said of plans for subsequent legislative elections.
Presidential elections in the world’s top cocoa supplier, still scarred by a 2002-2003 civil war that divided the country in two, have been delayed repeatedly for four years in a tortuous peace process.
Analysts consider a successful poll crucial for the West African country to reclaim its pre-civil war spot as one of region’s most vibrant economies and stable nations, adding that many of the reforms needed to improve its declining cocoa sector also hinge on the vote taking place.
“The important thing is not to go to elections but to go to elections in peace,” Gbagbo told the ceremony.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly September 25, Gbagbo had said the November 29 date was firmly fixed.
Pic: President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast