The vote comes months after President Ouattara won a third term in a poll marred by unrest that killed at least 85 people.
Voting began in Ivorian legislative elections, with President Alassane Ouattara’s allies facing a combined challenge from opposition parties led by two of his predecessors.
Saturday’s poll comes just months after Ouattara won a third term in a troubled election that killed at least 85 people, the country’s worst violence since the 2010-2011 civil war.
After boycotting the presidential election to protest Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term, the parties of former presidents Henri Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo present parliamentary candidates on a joint list.
Clear control of parliament by Ouattara’s Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix (RHDP) party would strengthen his hand to pursue a program based on attracting investment to the world’s largest cocoa producer. Côte d’Ivoire has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world in recent years.
“We are voting for peace. We no longer want endless debates between Ivorians, ”said Aïcha Coulibaly, hairdresser, who wore an RHDP T-shirt during her vote in Abobo, an Ouattara stronghold in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
Polls close at 6:00 p.m. GMT and final results are expected on Sunday.
The opposition is under pressure to show that it remains relevant after more than a decade of political domination by Ouattara, who came to power after defeating incumbent President Gbagbo in the 2010 elections and then prevailed in the civil war that followed.
Gbagbo’s faction of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) is participating in a national election for the first time since he was deposed in 2011 and sent to the International Criminal Court to face war crimes charges. He was acquitted in 2019.
“I am happy to participate in this vote. Since 2010, I had not voted, ”retired Alfred Balli told Reuters news agency after voting in Yopougoun, a Gbagbo stronghold in Abidjan.
Bedie’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) dominated national politics from the 1940s until his overthrow as president in 1999. It supported Ouattara for years but broke away from him in 2018.