Following a long and hard political campaign, Ivory Coast held its presidential election on November 28. After the votes were counted, presidential candidate, Alassane Ouattara, had won with a decisive victory over incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo. However, claiming that the voting had been rigged by his opponent’s party, Gbagbo refused to concede. The country’s Constitutional Council declared that the election results were invalid, declaring Gbagbo the winner.
Confusion began to reign when the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union and the African Union, as well as the United States, all agreed that the results of the election indicated a clear victory for Ouattara.
The people of Ivory Coast had hoped that this election would usher in a period with more stability, but the turn of events has created quite the opposite effect. At least 9 Ivoirians have already been killed. With increasing unrest and mounting tension, people are fearing the worst. Terror-stricken by the potential of war, about 3,700 Ivoirians have fled to Liberia. An average of 150 Ivoirians are leaving their country every day.
The present scenario is not new to the Ivory Coast. Memories of another civil war are too vivid in the minds of Ivoirians. In 2002, a long drawn-out putsch attempt against Gbagbo was launched by rebel groups of the north. The political insurrection dragged on into 2005 but failed. Thousands of Ivoirians were killed in the process. This putsch demonstrated a deepening split between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south. For Ivoirians, this present presidential predicament is “déjà vu all over again.” It should be no surprise to learn that Ouattara is from north Ivory Coast and Gbagbo from the south.
Praise International is very active in the Ivory Coast. Ivoirian Pastor Joseph Oulai is Praise International Regional Director, overseeing Praise’s sponsorship of a good number of Ivoirian pastors. Praise International supports and facilitates the ministries of these Ivoirian pastors. The families of these pastors are being blessed by the Praise ministry, their needs provided for, so they have enough to eat each day, so that their children can afford to go to school.
Pray for the Ivory Coast right now, for quick resolution of this potentially disastrous situation. Pray for safety for Ivoirians and particularly for our Praise-supported pastors, so they can encourage Ivoirians who are terrorized by this political ordeal.