Agenzia Fides REPORT – “We need to consolidate peace at any cost”, said the Archbishop of Abidjan on the eve of voting
On the eve of balloting for the presidential elections to be held Sunday, 28 November, mixed signals are coming from the Côte d'Ivoire. On one hand, the two candidates, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, last night launched an appeal for calm to voters during a televised debate. Secondly there is the killing of a pro Gbagbo demonstrator in the west of the Country, the region where cocoa plantations are concentrated and where indigenous peoples (considered pro Gbagbo) and immigrants from the north of Côte d'Ivoire or of foreign origin (considered pro Ouattara) live together.
For the past week there have been several incidents of clashes between protesters of the two camps, with some injuries, but no casualties.
Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan and spokesperson for the group of religious leaders for the “peaceful” elections, urged Ivorians to remain calm and act responsibly. “We implore the two candidates, in the name of God, to conduct an electoral campaign that allows us to go to the polls in complete peace. By committing ourselves to have the wisdom and dignity necessary to avoid cheap debates, we wish to invite fellow citizens to do likewise. We must consolidate peace at any cost.”
Bishop Kutwa also confirmed that whoever is elected President will have to embody national unity: “Once again, we would like to record that the presidential election is not and never will be the consecration of a religion, ethnic group, or a region. What we seek is to have a President who rises above all clans, tribes and religions; a president capable of leading our Country and those who inhabit it, to its full development.”
The group of religious leaders has indicated 24, 25 and 26 November as moments of prayer and fasting for the ballot to be conducted in an atmosphere of peace.