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Election Runoff in Ivory Coast

Author: John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
November 12, 2010


Election day in Ivory Coast came and went, but the race is far from over yet.

Observers gave the presidential vote on Oct. 31 high marks, and Ivorians appear to have accepted the results. Given the country's disastrous recent history, these are achievements in and of themselves.

The true test will be on Nov. 28, when a runoff is planned between the top two candidates, neither of whom won a majority. Current president Laurent Gbagbo, a French-educated academic and opposition leader, will run against his long-time rival Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim and former International Monetary Fund economist educated in the United States.

It's the runoff that will test Ivorian political will to restore national unity.

Ivory Coast thrived as West Africa's most developed country during the rule of pro-Western but authoritarian Felix Houphouet-Boigny from independence in 1960 until his death in 1993. With France guaranteeing political stability with its military base outside Abidjan, there was investment in agriculture, and the country became rich from cocoa, coffee and sugar exports.

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