Ivory Coast's Ruling Coalition Wins Majority in Local Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s ruling alliance won a majority in local elections that were contested by its former coalition partner as political divisions in the world’s biggest cocoa grower widen ahead of a 2020 presidential vote.

Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace took 92 municipalities in the Oct. 13 election, the electoral commission said in a statement Tuesday. Independent candidates got 56 municipalities, the commission said. The Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, which ruled the country for almost four decades until its leader, then-President Henri Konan Bedie, was ousted in a 1999 coup, obtained 50 municipalities.

At least three people died in clashes during the election and one election official was reported to be kidnapped and found murdered the next day, reflecting growing tensions between the country’s two main parties. The vote was the first local election since Ouattara, 76, took office seven years ago following almost a decade of conflict that brought Ouattara and 84-year-old Bedie together as main opposition leaders against former President Laurent Gbagbo. A faction of the FPI, formerly led by Gbagbo, won 2 municipalities.

Ivory Coast “has remained fundamentally stable over the past few years but the presidential election is raising fears of renewed violence in a country that still bears the marks of a civil war,” Adeline Van Houtte, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said in emailed comments.

The PDCI, as Bedie’s party is known, backed Ouattara in 2010 and 2015 presidential elections but wants to nominate its own candidate in 2020. Bedie announced last month that his party quit the ruling coalition, even as his party’s ministers remain in government.

The results show that the PDCI is still a significant political force, having won several key municipalities including the business district in the commercial capital, Abidjan, said Ousmane Zina, a political analyst at the Alassane Ouattara University in Bouake.

The organization “now needs to re-position itself as an opposition party,” he said.

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