The Côte d'Ivoire, after many postponements of a Presidential election, will finally head to the polls on October 31, 2010, to vote in a new President. The date has been set by the Electoral Commission after the original date of November 29, 2009 was postponed to a tentative date of January 29, 2010. The numerous postponements have been put down, by President Laurent Gbagbo's government, to technical delays in the issuing of identification cards to Ivorian citizens. Opponents to Gbagbo, however, argue that it is a ploy by the incumbent President to hold onto power for as long as possible.
Despite calls from the UN to go ahead with the election, Gbagbo has repeatedly said that, unless conditions are suitable, the Côte d'Ivoire will not rush into an election that may cause further violence between the north and the south. After much deliberation between Gbagbo, the Electoral Commission and opposition candidates, the election date was eventually set for October 31, 2010. If required, a runoff date has been set for November 28, 2010.
There are 14 candidates in the running from various political parties. However, all eyes will be on the three frontrunners, Gbagbo, former President Henri Konan Bédié and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. The elected candidate will have the challenging task of reconstructing a country still recovering from a debilitating civil war. This is no easy feat as all three leading candidates had a hand in creating the problems that led to the war.
United Nations Support
In the run-up to the upcoming elections, the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force, Unoci, has beefed up its security in the country by importing 500 more troops on the ground, adding to the 8 650 troops already stationed in the country. Further, the UN has relaxed an arms embargo to allow the import of riot gear for Ivorian security forces prior to the election. It is evident that the UN is taking the security threat in the West African country seriously to ensure that the fragile peace between the north and the south of the country remains intact during this critical stage in Ivorian history.