Ivory Coast

Electoral Process in the Ivory Coast:
What Must the Ivorian People Do To Exercise Sovereignty?

The upper bourgeois of the Ivory Coast has constantly written and repeated that democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. This is written in black on white in Article 30 of the Ivorian constitution. Article 31 of the same Constitution states, more precisely, that sovereignty belongs to the people.

The same Constitution does not prescribe representative mandate for life; in particular, the presidential term is limited. Indeed, paragraph 1 of article 35 of the same Constitution provides: ‘the President of the Republic is elected for five years by direct universal suffrage. He may be re-elected only once.’

Despite all these beautiful statements, the upper bourgeoisie is waging a policy that prevents the people from exercising their sovereignty. At the present time the Ivorian people find themselves in a situation where they are facing a destiny in which their sovereign right is scorned. Indeed, the presidential term and the parliamentary terms were over nearly 5 years ago. All the representatives whose terms have expired, starting with the President of the Republic, do not feel any embarrassment and show no willingness to give up to the people the seats that they still occupy in an illegitimate and illegal way. Despite the great suffering of the people, despite the cries of pain of the people, these ladies and gentlemen, so-called representatives of the people, closed their ears and shut their eyes in order to hear nothing and see nothing.

Faced with this shameful situation, one thing is certain; the people will sooner or later take up their responsibilities despite the manoeuvres of certain political forces to keep them in a state of apathy and illusion. Above all, the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI) will help them every day to diagnose the evil and identify the best remedies.

The most effective remedy recommended by the PCRCI is organization. Indeed, a people organised in committees of wage workers, of peasants, of artisans, of merchants, women’s committees, youth committees, committees of high school and university students, etc., becomes an invincible people able to confront any swindler.

The Ivorian people know well those who do not wish to organise elections and who therefore want to prolong their suffering. They have taken the measure of the latter and are preparing to take up their responsibilities to deal with them. The appearance of any ‘saviour’ can only be a diversion. In the current situation, the danger of a diversion can come from more than one side. The diversion that is most dangerous is a military coup d’état. Ivorian history has shown that, faced with the threat of seizure of power in 1999 with the establishment of a constitution and an anti-democratic electoral law as well as the spreading of the reactionary theory of Ivorian ethnicity, plotters of a coup appeared on the political scene and made the people believe that they could solve the problems that assailed the Ivorian people. To get rid of this military regime, the Ivorian people had to make great sacrifices. The civilian regime resulting from the referendum and the presidential election organized by the military was never intended to, and never could dismantle military rule. Less than two years after its establishment, the civilian rule called the ‘Refoundation’ began to show its inability to govern. Before the people had time to find a solution to the bankruptcy proclaimed by the Refoundation, a new group of ‘saviours’ arose in September 2002, in the form of a coup-rebellion. We see today how the attempts to ‘make the people happy’ have failed.

After these experiences of military power (the National Committee Public Safety) and the military-civilian power called Refoundation associated with the ‘former rebels,’ which proved to be calamitous, the Ivorian people should be on guard against these types of solutions that do not resolve any problems but rather create many others. As an example: the economic crisis has not been solved. The Ivorian people continue to live in greater and greater difficulties; it is increasingly hard to get health treatment, to educate one’s children, just as before the coup; in addition, the country has been plunged into a reactionary civil war which has become the pretext for the increased exploitation of the people. If you think about the incompetence of the existing power, you will always find some corrupt supporters to answer that it is because of the war that the government cannot solve any of the problems; a war that has already created many large fortunes whose ostentatious signs are clear to everyone.

The history of the Ivory Coast is repeating itself since September 2009 has many similarities with September 1999. The risk of seizure of power is the same. The same causes produce the same effects; it is not impossible that new peddlers of illusions will try to deceive to the people again. It is important to warn the people against the putchist tendencies from all sides showing that the actions of these latter are no different from those of their predecessors, with the following goal: overtake the people to prevent them from properly resolving their problems by the revolution.

The Ivorian people are in no way disarmed faced with the current situation; on the contrary. Universal history teaches that the people can exercise their sovereignty in one of the following two ways:

1. To launch an insurrection against the institutions that have become illegal and illegitimate, but that use of reactionary violence to hold on to power; this insurrection lets the people tear down the obsolete institutions and establish new institutions reflecting their will; besides resolving many other important problems, the insurrection creates the conditions for sovereign elections.

2. To exercise political pressure on the existing institutions (Presidency, Government, CEI [Independent Electoral Commission  translator’s note) to hold sovereign elections in which the people express themselves without being hindered by reactionary violence or the manipulation of the institutions. Today, this pressure is taking place; the operation of identification [for electoral rolls  translator’s note] has been closed since the end of June 2009 against the will of those who demanded that this process not come to an end; the fight is now to get a definitive electoral list that does not exclude any citizen of the Ivory Coast, obtaining identity cards and voter cards for all Ivorians, the organization of general elections without any laws and states of exception prohibiting public demonstrations.

The true solution to the current problems can only be found by a conscious people, relying on their own committees of struggle forcing the holders of power to organise sovereign elections, or otherwise, rising up against the institutions which have become illegal and illegitimate and replacing them with new institutions (a Provisional Revolutionary Government, a new constitution as a base for any elections that allow the people to express themselves).

The Central Committee,
Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI)

Abidjan, September 16, 2009.

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