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Côte d'Ivoire: Online Campaign Says No to Holding Multiple Public Offices

[All links forward to french articles unless otherwise stated] 

Ivorian bloggers have initiated a campaign for a real public debate on the issue of parliamentarians simultaneously holding multiple elected offices in Côte d'Ivoire. Tired of seeing parliamentarians also being mayors or presidents of a General Council [a regional political body], these netizens are using social media and organizing a petition to call upon Ivorian political leaders to renounce multiple offices.

Elie NGouan has dedicated part of his facebook page to such action and explains the reasons behind the campaign:

Ils étaient Ministres, puis ils sont devenus en plus députés et maintenant ils veulent aussi devenir Maires, Présidents de Conseil Général… On s'est battu aussi contre ce genre de choses alors disons haut et Fort NON AUX CUMULARDS

They were ministers, then they became members of parliament and now they also want to be come Mayors, Presidents of the General Council… We fought against this sort of thing also so let's say it loud and strong: NO TO MULTIPLE OFFICES

 

Poster " non au cumul des mandats" par Elie Nguan publié sur facebook

“No to multiple offices” poster published by Elie Nguan on his facebook page with his permission

Ngouan clarifies, nevertheless, that he is far from being opposed to the government of President Alassane Ouattara – but that it is time to deliver the changes that were promised:

En temps de guerre, d'attaques, de tentatives de déstabilisation du pays je serai le 1er à défendre le régime de Ouattara, qui est le symbole de la victoire de la démocratie sur la dictature. Mais en temps de stabilité j'attaquerai avec la même énergie ce régime. Je ne cesserai de le critiquer pour qu'il donne aux ivoiriens ce qu'il leur a promis c'est à dire le changement. Je sais que le PR peut réaliser énormément de bonnes choses pour ce pays c'est pourquoi je ne cesserai de lui demander toujours plus, toujours mieux [..] Ouattara, tu es donc prévenu toutes les erreurs et fautes de toi et ton gouvernement seront sévèrement sanctionnés. Sache que vous êtes très attendus sur le sujet du cumul excessif de postes et de mandats.

In a time of war, of attacks, of attempts to destabilize the country, I would be the first to defend the Ouattara regime, which is a symbol of the victory of democracy over dictatorship. But during stable periods I will attack this regime with the same energy. I will not cease to criticize it so that it gives Ivorians what it promised them – that is, change. I know that the president can do a a great deal of good for this country and that is why I will not cease to ask him for still more, for still better [..] Ouattara, you have thus been warned all your faults and errors, as well as those of your government, will be severely punished. Know that much is expected of you on the issue of multiple public office and appointment-holders.

The netizens have also launched a petition to make politicians more sensitive to the issue. On Twitter, the hashtag #nonaucumul has been adopted by several Ivorian Twitter users to explain why multiple office-holding is harmful to the nation's future:

@Lord225: On ne construit pa une nation forte en confiant tous les aspects de son developpement a un cercle restreint de personne #civ2010 #nonaucumul

@Lord225: One does not build a strong nation by granting responsbility for all apsects of its development to an exclusive circle #civ2010 #nonaucumul

@sanders225: Si tu es député, laisse un autre être maire. Vas pas lui barrer la route #nonaucumul

@sanders225: If you are a member of parliament, let someone else be mayor. Don't go blocking his path #nonaucumul

Thomas Kobenan Tah, a leader of the PDCI [Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire], explains his position on the issue and why it is important not to permit parliamentarians to hold multiple offices - particularly in the Ivorian context:

Si nous faisons en sorte à plus apparenter les gouvernances de nos Etats à une délibération collective qui implique aussi les individus sans engagement dans l’un quelconque des trois pouvoirs (le Législatif, le Judiciaire et l’Exécutif) et à imposer des règles sur les pratiques politiques de campagne (y compris les précampagnes) avec des possibilités équitables de compétitionner lors des joutes électorales, plus elle deviendra juste et recommandable à des républiques comme les nôtres. Avons-nous d’autre choix que celui-là pour prévenir nos interminables crises, conflits et violences de tous ordres, nos insatiables désirs de vengeance, etc. ?

If we strive to make the governance of our state institutions more akin to a process of collective deliberation that is inclusive of people who are not officially engaged in any of the three formal branches (legislative, judicial or executive) and to impose rules on the conduct of political campaigns (including pre-selection campaigns) with equitable opportunities for contending electoral contests, the more our system will be fair and commendable to republics like ours. Do we have any other choice for ending our endless crises, conflicts and violence of all kinds, our insatiable desire for revenge, etc.. ?

Current government leaders have engaged in dialogue with the netizens, notably on twitter. Minister Alain Lobognon explains why it is sometimes necessary for a parliamentarian to hold multiple offices:

@alainlobog: #nonaucumul @LaLegende77 @sanders225 Que répondre aux appels de mon Peuple? Dire NON et me griller politiquement? Dire OUI et vous subir?

@alainlobog: #nonaucumul @LaLegende77 @sanders225 How should I respond to the calls of my people? Say NO and roast put myself politically? Say YES and suffer your anger?

he adds:

@alainlobog: Vous préférez que mon adversaire politique gagne et m'empêche d'organiser mes meetings? @fielanord @sanders225 ”C'est interdit!”

@alainlobog: Would you prefer for my political opponents to win and to stop me from organizing my meetings? @fielanord @sanders225 ”It's forbidden!”

Guillame Soro, current president of the national assembly and former prime minister, also thinks that the issue is more complex than it seems and should not be treated simplistically:

@GuillaumeKSoro: Ne soyons pas dogmatique sur la question.

@GuillaumeKSoro: Let's not be dogmatic about this issue.

Even so, Minister Lobognon, like Guillaume Soro, has given assurances that he will not seek to simultaneously take up multiple elected offices - already one small victory for this nascent citizen movement.

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