/Ivory Coast Elections: President Ouattaras Party Retains Parliament Majority

Ivory Coast Elections: President Ouattaras Party Retains Parliament Majority

Alassane Ouattara

Photographer: Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images

Ivory Coast’s ruling party retained its parliamentary majority in elections held last weekend, bolstering President Alassane Ouattara’s hold on power five months after he secured a controversial third term.

Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace won 137 out of 254 seats, according to a tally from the nation’s electoral commission. A coalition of ex-President Henri Konan Bedie’s Democratic Party of Ivory Coast and a party aligned to former President Laurent Gbagbo was the runner-up with 50 seats. That included six seats from the Yopougon district of Abidjan, a Gbagbo stronghold.

Gbagbo was acquitted on charges of crimes against humanity by The Hague-based International Criminal Court in January 2019, and has been in exile in Belgium pending the prosecutor’s appeal. He’s set to return to Ivory Coast from March 15, according to his son, Michel, who won a parliamentary seat.

All major parties contested the election for the first time in 26 years, a development Ouattara said “confirms the democratic momentum” in the world’s biggest cocoa-growing nation.

READ: Ivorian Ruling Party Looks to Cement Control in Legislative Vote

The main opposition parties boycotted a presidential contest in October in protest at Ouattara’s decision to stand for another term — alleging it was unlawful despite the Constitutional Council having cleared him to run again. They decided to field candidates for the legislature after the government agreed to additional electoral commission seats for opposition parties.

There are 255 seats in the National Assembly, but balloting in one area was postponed due to the death of one of the candidates.

(Updates with more details on opposition leader in second and third paragraphs.)

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