Voters in the Ivory Coast have approved a new constitution during a weekend referendum, according to results announced Tuesday. It is hoped that the new charter will help the nation move on from the long lasting crisis in the country and build much needed stability. The newly adopted text received almost 93 percent of the vote [Reuters report]. Opposition leaders claim that the vote was a fraud to keep the current regime in power and called for a boycott of the vote. The turnout was reportedly around 42 percent, but the opposition claims that it was actually “well below 10 percent.” The referendum replaces a constitution that was drafted under military rule. Under the new constitution [CNBC report], a presidential candidate only needs one parent who was Ivorian instead of two. Furthermore, the referendum creates a position for a vice president and the senate. The results must now be validated by the constitutional court before the referendum goes into effect.
The Ivory Coast has faced turmoil since 2010 when former president Laurent Gbagbo [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] ran for reelection against former prime minister Alassane Ouattara [BBC profile]. The EU recognized that Ouattara defeated Gbagbo, but Gbagbo refused to concede victory. Gbagbo has been accused [JURIST report] of starting a civil war after losing the presidency, which resulted in 3,000 deaths and one million people displaced. Gbagbo is currently facing trial before the International Criminal Court. This July the UN released a report [JURIST report] claiming that the Ivory Coast needed to make greater efforts to prevent and punish rape.