“The religious leaders urge political parties to refrain from making reference to religious denominations in their campaign speeches because the majority of activists and supporters of political parties are of different religious backgrounds,” Pastor Nguessan further said in reference to electoral campaigns that began Thursday, October 15 in the West African nation.
Tension has been mounting in Ivory Coast ahead of the October 31 polls following President Alassane Ouattara's decision to run for a third term, according to a media report. There are also fears about a fair election after 40 out of 44 candidates were rejected by the Constitutional Council.
On October 10, thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the capital, Abidjan to protest against the President’s bid for another term.
More than a dozen people have been killed in violent protests in recent weeks, sparking memories of the 2010-2011 civil war that broke out when Former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to stand down after the electoral commission declared Ouattara the winner.
There have been calls from members of the international community to delay the elections to minimize any further violence and facilitate dialogue with the opposition.
Also speaking at the October 14 prayer event, Bishop Alexis Touably Youlo of Ivory Coast’s Agboville Diocese urged the Ivorian government to release those imprisoned “following the recent demonstrations in connection with the presidential election,” adding, “Government should further promote the return of those in exile to Ivory Coast.”
Bishop Youlo further urged members of political parties to “ban all forms of violence in the conquest of power,” inviting the entire Ivorian population “to avoid all forms of violence and show restraint during this election period.”
On his part, the President of the Higher Council of Imams, Mosques and Islamic Affairs (COSIM) in Ivory Coast, Cheikh Aïma Mamadou Traoré implored God’s divine intervention for members of political parties in the West African nation “to renew dialogue, true reconciliation and constructive collaboration in order to preserve peace, harmony and social cohesion.”