Amid political tension
The latest reports from north-eastern Nimba County indicates that citizens of neighboring Ivory Coast have begun crossing into Liberia in search of peace and security following political tension that left at least two persons dead on the day of voting on Saturday with properties including vehicles set ablaze.
According to reports, hundreds of refugees have been crossing at various border points in the Loguatuo, Kenlay, Gborplay and Buutuo areas. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that others are crossing to Grand Gedeh County where Liberia also shares a boundary with the Ivory Coast. The refugees, the bulk of them women and children, are seen with bundles of mattresses and bags of clothes, crossing in canoes to seek safety with their neighbors.
Ivorians along the border with Liberia have commonalities with their Liberian counterparts. Most speak the same local dialects and have similar traditions. Many have also intermarried and have become in-laws and other extended families to one another.
Their social and cultural homogeneity allows them to easily relate to one another that most of them may not find it difficult to get lodging in the towns and villages where they are seeking refuge.
It may be recalled that a few years ago the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) with support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) transported some Ivoirians back to the Ivory Coast following the cessation of hostilities that the country faced during their elections, in 2010 and 2011.
The latest electoral violence in the Ivory Coast comes as a result of President Allansane Ouattara’s change of the constitution to seek a third term in office.
President Ouattara, who ascended to the presidency after bloody electoral violence in 2011, changed the Ivoirian constitution in 2016 to allow him stand for a third term, a move that opposition figures rejected and demanded a “Civil transition”, according to the BBC.
The BBC says Pascal Affi N’Guessan and Henri Konan Bèdiè described as “illegal” President Ouattara’s third term bid, noting that it broke the rules on term limits.
The President’s supporters on the other hand are reported to have disputed this, stressing that a constitutional change in 2016 made his first term to not count.
According to the BBC, key opposition leaders are urging mass protests to prevent what they term as “Dictatorship” in the Ivory Coast. Mr. N’Guessan is quoted by the BBC to have said on Sunday: “Opposition parties and political groups call for the start of a civil transition.” “We note the end of President Alassane Ouattara’s mandate on 31 October and call on the international community to take note.”