Rep. Phillips Warns Of Violence, Democratic Backsliding In Côte d’Ivoire
Today, a resolution led by Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) calling for free and fair elections in Côte d’Ivoire passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee with bipartisan support. As the legislation continues through the House, Phillips has voiced his support for the West African country’s democratic institutions:
“As the 2020 election in Côte d’Ivoire draws near, the country must choose whether to continue an era of relative peace or return to the ethnically-charged violence that has stained its past,” said Rep. Dean Phillips. “It is more important now than ever to call attention to this situation and urge early action in order to secure election legitimacy and transparency, as well as prevent violence and help save lives. My resolution calls on the Ivoirian government and all political parties to commit to free, fair and peaceful elections; protect and support citizens and their access to information; and combat disinformation, hate speech, and violence.”
The United States and Côte d’Ivoire have a strong bilateral relationship, however there is cause for concern as the country approaches the October 31st presidential election. Political transitions in Côte d’Ivoire have historically been accompanied by large-scale violence against civilians, seen most recently in 2010. Although atrocity crimes are not yet taking place, early warning signs are apparent. This has become more troublesome as President Ouattara has decided to run for a third term, which some believe to be a violation of the constitution’s two-term limit. Several citizens have been killed and dozens more injured or arrested amid protests against his candidacy.
H.Res. 1150 reaffirms the relationship between the United States and Côte d’Ivoire, and supports the Ivoirian people in their pursuit of peace, democracy, tolerance, and stability. While raising concerns about instability around the elections, this resolution calls on the government of Côte d’Ivoire and all political parties to commit to free, fair and peaceful elections. It also urges civil society, local communities, and religious leaders to remain united in calls for peace, nonviolence, tolerance, and democracy. Finally, it calls upon the United States and other international partners to condemn hate speech and violence against peaceful demonstrators, support election preparation efforts as well as an independent investigation into the killings of civilians during demonstrations.
“The 2020 electoral season has been a cause for concern globally. This resolution urges the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, opposition leaders, and all citizens to respect democratic principles and refrain from violence,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa. “I encourage the government to publicly commit to free, fair, peaceful, and transparent elections and make clear that all Ivorians, including security forces, government officials, political opposition members, and members of the media, will be held accountable for inciting or perpetrating violence. I urge my colleagues to support this important endorsement of free and fair elections.”