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Ivory Coast’s election dilemma


ivorycoast_soldiers_ballots.jpgThe authorities in Ivory CoastĀ have now embarked on what is supposed to be the last step of issuing identity papers to its citizens. Those who lost their papers during the war or never had any in the first place and missed out on previous hearings across the country are getting another chance .

This, in theory, will then allow those old enough to register to vote in elections, which are due to take place on November 30. These are the elections meant to end a crisis that was sparked by a short war in 2002-2003 and left the country, the world’s top cocoa producer and home to one of the region’s most stable and flourishing economies, divided between a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south.

The two sides have struck numerous deals and, though there was little fighting after the first few months of the war, election deadlines have come and gone. The 2007 deal between President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro, who has since become prime minister, seems to be Ivory Coast’s best shot at peace yet.

But a glance at the newspapers on the day the new identification drive was launched revealed other concerns. Fraternite Matin, a respected daily, devoted its front page to a headline that read “It is not possible!” above a collection of reasons why the presidential election cannot be held on Nov. 30. Many other papers had columns analysing rumours and the subsequent denials that the army chief had been arrested.