With just days until the Ivory Coast presidential election, campaigning is unusually quiet this year as the spectres of the 2010 post-election violence, which killed thousands of people, still haunt the population.
“Frankly you don’t feel an upcoming election in the countryside, because people are fearful. Everyone just has to go and get their voter card to vote, that’s what is essential,” one voter told Africanews.
“Our neighborhood is Williamsville. No one said to my brothers and sisters let’s go and campaign, No one did,” said another.
The posters of incumbent Alassane Ouattara, who is seeking a controversial third term are not as visible as in the 2010 and 2015 votes.
Posters of Konan Kouadio Bertin, his only campaigning opponent are even rarer.
More than 7.5 million voters are expected to cast their ballots on Saturday but violence has already flared in some regions, over Ouattara’s decision to run again.
National observers fear the insecurity could cause a high abstention rate.
Ouattara has been in power for nearly a decade. After his heir-apparent died unexpectedly, the incumbent president said he would run for a third term.
Ouattara insists that his first two terms do not count toward term limits because Ivory Coast has approved a new constitution.
Opposition activists want Ouattara disqualified from the election. ECOWAS advised a meeting between the president and Bertin but so far they only reportedly spoke on the phone on Sunday.
“When an election is organized and the leaders who decide to boycott the elections and whoever decides to go to the elections, goes independent, he has no structure, he has no political apparatus, of course, there is no enthusiasm,” said Professor Mahomet N’Guessann, Senior Lecturer in Political History, University of Cocody.