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Vote counting underway in Ivorian referendum

Vote counting underway in Ivorian referendum

Ivory Coast

Vote counting is underway in the Ivory Coast where citizens voted on Sunday in a referendum for a new constitution.

The results of the referendum according to the country’s electoral commission would be known by Monday or Tuesday.

The exercise was reportedly disrupted briefly by some youth who destroyed equipment at several polling stations in the Ivorian capital Abidjan.

We are redeploying security forces to ensure that the election proceeds smoothly. Things are going well overall.

Eye witnesses and the Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko confirmed the violence at the polls boycotted by the opposition who are against the draft constitution.

In the popular neighborhood of Yopougon, some youths ransacked Sicogi II Public School office, witnesses told AFP.

“There are young violent people who are ransacking the polls but it can not stop the voting,” Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko told the media.

He said the young men posed as voters and took voting materials preventing people from casting their ballots citing neighbourhoods including Yopougon, Gagnoa, Daloa and Dabou in the capital which are popular opposition strongholds.

“We are redeploying security forces to ensure that the election proceeds smoothly. Things are going well overall,” Bakayoko added.

President Alassane Ouattara also mentioned the incidents after voting in Abidjan, saying they were isolated cases.

“These happened at two or three places … I appeal for a peaceful election. The police did its job. We can vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, it is not worth disrupting it or building barricades,” he emphasized.

The main Ivorian opposition party, Alliance of Democratic Forces Ivory Coast (AFD-CI), and its allies demonstrated last week and called for a boycott of the referendum vote as well as a total withdrawal of the new draft constitution which they claim is a step backward for democracy.

At the heart of the opposition’s dispute is a clause that relaxes the previous requirement that presidential candidates should have both parents born in Ivory Coast. Also, the removal of the maximum age limit (75 years) for presidential candidates.

The poll results will determine the country’s position on the new constitution which stipulates the creation of a post of Vice President, a Senate, a House of traditional chiefs, compulsory education and five-year term for the President among others.

Voting was expected to end at 18:00 GMT and the results declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in a maximum of four days.

This is the second referendum in the West African country and if the ‘Yes’ wins, the new constitution will be the third for the country.

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