I.Coast ruling party looks set for big win in local pollsSun, 03 Sep 2023 21:49:13 GMT

Ivory Coast’s ruling party appeared set for a landslide victory according to partial results Sunday from local elections expected to gauge support two years from presidential elections, electoral commission data showed.The ruling RHDP won in two-thirds of the 112 communes where results have so far been tallied, according to the partial results.A total of 201 communes were up for grabs at Saturday’s elections.The two main opposition parties — Democratic Party (PDCI) and Democratic Party (PDCI —  who had teamed up in many areas to take on the RHDP, won in 15 of the communes counted, with the rest going to independent candidates.A total of 31 regional councils were also up for election on Saturday. The first eight results from those contests all went to the RHDP, according to the electoral commission, with Prime Minister Patrick Achi winning in the southern Me region and Defence Minister Tene Birahima Ouattara in Tchologo, in the north.The elections were the first since former president Laurent Gbagbo returned to Ivory Coast in June 2021 after being acquitted by the International Criminal Court on human rights charges linked to post-electoral violence in 2011.Gbagbo was not able to vote after being struck from the electoral roll due to a conviction in Ivory Coast linked to the 2011 crisis — though his son was standing for his party in an Abidjan district.”The elections went off calmly,” said electoral commission spokesman Emile Ebrottie, ahead of giving out early results on national television.Monitoring group Aube Nouvelle (New Dawn) said it had registered some isolated altercations but overall the poll had passed off smoothly — in stark contrast to three years ago, when contested presidential elections won by Alassane Ouattara saw violence spark that led to 85 deaths.Some candidates did complain, however, of irregularities — including in Abidjan’s largest and bellwether district of Yopougon.Many senior ruling party figures won their seats, according to the partial results, including National Assembly Speaker Adama Bictogo, who took 44 percent of the vote in Yopougon.He took advantage of a rare example of opposition disunity in the most-populous area of  Abidjan with a population of 1.5 million, to beat Michel Gbagbo, son of former president Gbagbo.Augustin Dia Houphouet, the PDCI candidate in Yopougon, had complained of “huge irregularities” in the voting. He won 19 percent of the votes.The presidential election will be held in 2025. Incumbent Ouattara has not said whether he will stand for a fourth term in office,The results of Saturday’s voting are expected to continue coming in on Monday.