IVORY COAST President Alassane Ouattara appeared set for victory on Monday after a weekend election marred by clashes and an opposition boycott aimed at derailing his drive for a third term.
Violence erupted in August, sending a wave of alarm through West Africa, when Ouattara said he would run again, to the fury of the opposition who called it a constitutional breach.
Pre-election clashes killed at least 30 and the boycott stoked fears of a repeat of the 2010-2011 crisis when 3,000 people died after then president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat by Ouattara.
By midday Monday, the Electoral Commission had released preliminary results from around a quarter of the country’s 108 regions showing Ouattara with a commanding lead, as much as 90 percent in parts of his stronghold in the north.
Full results are expected later on Monday.
Ouattara’s lead was expected, as opposition leaders Henri Konan Bedie and Pascal Affi N’Guessan, among only four candidates allowed to take part, had called for a boycott of vote.
They have already rejected the ballot as a failure and called for a “civilian transition” from Ouattara’s government.
“This marks the end of the mandate,” N’Guessan said on Sunday in a short statement for the opposition. “We call on the Ivorian people to mobilise.”
That brought a warning from the ruling RHDP party against any attempts to destabilise the country.
“The RHDP calls for authorities to be firm. No one is above the law,” RHDP party director Adama Bictogo told reporters.
Abidjan, the country’s economic capital, was calm on Monday.
But tensions were still high in Daoukro, an opposition stronghold 235 kilometres (146 miles) north of Abidjan, where protesters had set up barricades.
“We’re here on alert, waiting for the results,” said General Aime, a local opposition activist.
A local ruling party official said gendarmerie were negotiating to avoid clashes between rival communities who back different political factions.