Since Monday, October 19, intercommunal clashes have caused at least the death of seven people and left around 40 injured, in Dabou, 50 km west of Abidjan, the main city of Côte d’Ivoire. The country is plunged into a violent crisis ten days before the presidential election.
→ ANALYSIS. In Côte d’Ivoire, tension mounts ahead of elections
The toll could grow even worse because the prefect of Dabou Remy Nzi Kanga, the mayor of Dabou Jean-Claude Yede Niangne as well as witnesses mentioned fire from assault rifles. The prefect mentioned “A militia” Kalashnikov army, stressing that “Young people (from the region) do not have this type of weapon”. He assured that the situation was “In the process of normalization” after sending reinforcements. A curfew has been declared from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. until Sunday.
A controversial third term
According to residents, the first unrest began on Monday and degenerated into intercommunal clashes on Tuesday between Adioukrous (local ethnic group, known to be favorable to the opposition) and Dioulas (northern ethnic group deemed to be pro-power). A 20-year-old student was killed with machetes in Kpass (on the outskirts of Dabou) on Tuesday, in an attack carried out by “ young Malinkés or Dioulas who set fire to part of the village school, looted the teachers’ homes and brutalized several villagers ”, detailed Gbari Kock Yed, chief of the village of Kpass, which has a thousand inhabitants.
→ REPORT. In Ivory Coast, Duékoué, still haunted by the violence of 2011
President Alassane Ouattara, in power since 2010, is running for a controversial third term, while the candidacies of several opposition figures have been invalidated. Fears of new deadly violence are great, ten years after the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011, born of President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to recognize his electoral defeat against Alassane Ouattara. Coming after a decade of tensions that had cut the country in two, it had claimed 3,000 lives.
The opposition boycots the electoral process
Opposition spokesperson Pascal Affi N’Guessan, presidential candidate on behalf of the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) and Henri Konan Bédié, leader of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI, the main opposition movement ) claimed to maintain their presidential candidacies, while boycotting the electoral process. The opposition calls in particular for an overhaul of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) and of the Constitutional Council that it considers “Subservient to power”.
Twenty people have died since August in violence linked to the October 31 presidential election.