Issa-malick-coulibaly, electoral expert in exile in Benin Photo: Banouto

The 2010 presidential election went badly wrong in Ivory Coast. Several people lost their lives and thousands in exile, not to mention those who are languishing in prison for various reasons despite the involvement of the United Nations in the organisation of the elections.

Issa Malick Coulibaly, doctor in medicine and Minister of Agricultureb under Laurent Gbagbo, has been in Benin since 2011. There is not for his own pleasure but as a political exile. He was Laurent Gbagbo’s campaign director in 2010. The election that claimed more victims in the country’s political history was certified by the United Nations (UN). The former minister, in a document he wrote, said that the UN special representative at the time, far from being impartial, had to take a position for a side. Issa Coulibaly, being aware of the first-hand information, reassured that this intervention by the United Nations, the third in history and the first in Africa, was no more and no less than the substitution of the people by an organization of a global nature. Which he disapproves of orally. For him, now the leading expert in election management in Ivory Coast, it is not appropriate that in a democratic country, an institution should supplant the people.

Worse, he deplores, the UN special representative to certify the elections were in the company of the president of the Constitutional Council during the deliberation of the results of the second round of the presidential election in a hotel that happens to be owned by one of the two challengers. While at the proclamation of the results of the first round, not only were there no members of international institutions, the results were given at the headquarters of the Constitutional Council in the presence of all the councillors.

Birth of the crisis

The crisis was born of the new interpretation of the UN representative. In fact, it has an interpretation other than that adopted in the first round of the presidential election. This has provoked strong reactions from the population. The rebels have interfered to create unrest in the country. At the beginning of the crisis, one of the candidates, he will say, asked for the votes to be recounted. Against all odds and contrary to what was happening in Haiti almost in the same period, the UN said niet. To corroborate everything, Issa Coulibaly deplored the use of heavy weapons against unarmed populations in a country like Côte d’Ivoire. For him, if the certification had not been insufficient, the crisis would not have been born.

It is to “ensure that there is not war after an election in my country or elsewhere” that Dr. Issa Coulibaly makes proposals to the UN to better certify elections in the future. He made it clear that this is not work that tends to discredit the organization but a contribution, since it is a learning experience for UN officials in this area. He recommends, in fact, that the UN should only observe the elections to attest to the results of the Constitutional Council if the standards are respected rather than weighing in as an arbiter in the electoral process. The other recommendation of the electoral expert is that the UN should support national institutions to strengthen themselves rather than intervene in internal affairs, which are very often sources of crisis.

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