The Ivory Coast Constitutional Council on Friday affirmed the results of a referendum backing a new constitution, rejecting requests from several political parties, including that of former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile], who boycotted the vote that the referendum be annulled. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile] stated that the new constitution will help the country put behind a decade of political turmoil and move forward toward progress. The newly adopted constitution received a record 93 percent of the vote [JURIST report], although the voter turnout was only about 42 percent. The older constitution, drafted under military rule after a 1999 coup, contained a controversial clause [Reuters report] that required both parents of the presidential candidates to be native-born Ivorians. This was meant to preclude northern Ivorians like Ouattara who have family ties that straddle the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali, from running for the presidency. Under the new constitution [CNBC report], a presidential candidate only needs one parent who was Ivorian instead of two. The referendum also creates a position for a vice president and the senate.
The Ivory Coast has faced turmoil [JURIST archive] since November 2010 when Gbagbo ran for reelection against Ouattara who was previously a prime minister. The EU recognized that Ouattara defeated Gbagbo, but Gbagbo refused to concede victory [JURIST report]. Gbagbo has been accused [JURIST report] of starting a civil war after losing the presidency, which resulted in 3,000 deaths and the displacement of one million people. In May 2015, a panel of appeals judges for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] affirmed [JURIST report] a ruling against former first lady Simone Gbagbo that allows the case to go forward to trial. However, the Ivory Coast government refused to turn Simone over [JURIST report] to the ICC, instead insisting that their own courts can effectively dispense justice. Laurent Gbagbo is currently facing trial before the ICC on four charges of crimes against humanity for murder, attempted murder, rape and persecution during a wave of post-election violence between December 2010 and April 2011.