After the success of the first round of voting, without doubt, this debate is yet another historic victory for the Ivory Coast and for the continent as a whole.
It was disappointing and regrettable that one person died in the prelude to this debate on Friday, and meant that it was all the more important that Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara debated peacefully and with intelligence last night.
Fortunately they did not let us down, reflecting the sentiment of the majority of Ivorians, the discussion was calm and amicable.
Reinforcing the desire for peace in the Ivory Coast before voting begins on Sunday, Gbagbo called on a minute’s silence for all those who lost their lives and suffered during the unrest in the country. Ouattara said, “In the end I know these will be peaceful elections, just like the first round.”
Gbagbo also announced a 10pm curfew after Sunday’s poll saying, “I have to say that I am worried when I see the tense atmosphere and the mood and therefore, we are taking the appropriate measures.” Ouattara replied with a smile, “I think that out of courtesy, Laurent, you could have phoned me to tell me that.”
In response to the question: are you willing to accept the result, Gbagbo answered, “It is important that the one who wins, wins and the one who loses, loses” and Ouattara replied, “I will accept the results. I have said it. I am repeating it.”
Foreign press responded to the debate with the following headlines:
France 24 (TV in English): “After the acrimony, rivals face off cordially in TV debate”
Reuters (English): “Ivorian rivals soothe hostility in polite TV debate”
Walf Fadjri (FR): “Face to Face TV Gbagbo – Ouattara: A big first for Africa”
L’Express (FR): “Gbagbo and Ouattara calm the game, close vote in Côte d’Ivoire”
www.lequotidien.sn (FR): “Ivorian presidential televised debate between the 2 candidates: Gbagbo announced a curfew on election night, Ouattara calls for calm”
TF1 (FR): “Côte d’Ivoire: One dead before Sunday’s election”
RFI (English): “One dead in clashes ahead of Côte d’Ivoire vote”
By Sara Atteby