The ruling party of President Alassane Ouattara has secured a landslide victory in the local and regional elections held on Saturday, September 2, 2023, according to the electoral commission. The results, announced on Monday, September 4, 2023, show that the Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) won in 123 out of 201 municipalities and 25 out of 31 regions.
The elections were seen as a test of the political climate in Ivory Coast, a West African nation with a history of post-electoral violence and a booming economy. The polls were the first since the return of former president Laurent Gbagbo, who was acquitted by the International Criminal Court on charges related to the 2011 crisis that claimed more than 3,000 lives. Gbagbo was not able to vote after being struck from the electoral roll due to a conviction in Ivory Coast linked to the 2011 crisis.
The main opposition parties, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) and the African People’s Party – Ivory Coast (PPA-CI), had formed alliances in many areas to challenge the RHDP. However, they only managed to win 34 municipalities and four regions, while independent candidates took the rest. Some opposition candidates complained of irregularities and fraud, while some incidents of violence and vandalism were reported in some polling stations.
The electoral commission president, Ibrahim Kuibiert, called on all candidates to respect the results and “not to indulge in violence”. He said that the commission had received more than 200 complaints and appeals, which would be examined by the Constitutional Council.
The partial results showed that many senior RHDP figures won their seats, including National Assembly Speaker Adama Bictogo, Prime Minister Patrick Achi, and Defence Minister Tene Birahima Ouattara. The RHDP also retained its parliamentary majority in the elections held in March 2021.
The local and regional elections were seen as a precursor to the presidential election scheduled for 2025. President Ouattara, who won a controversial third term in 2020, has not yet indicated whether he will run again or name a successor. His main rivals, Gbagbo and former president Henri Konan Bedie, have also not revealed their plans. Analysts say that the political landscape remains uncertain and tense in Ivory Coast, which is still recovering from its past conflicts.