The Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) has suspended its upcoming presidential elections which had been set for September 5, citing “serious shortcomings” in the electoral process.
FIF took the decision just days after one of the candidates in the race, Didier Drogba had his application validated by the Federation’s electoral body.
It had been doubtful that Drogba’s application would be accepted, with concerns raised over whether he could meet the election requirements.
The Ivory Coast Footballers Association (AFI), one of the five main interest groups in Ivorian football had refused to endorse his candidacy, drawing a suspension from FIFPro.
However, Drogba’s application was controversially accepted after he got the endorsements of three Ivorian Ligue 1 clubs, two Ligue 2 clubs, two Championnat Division 3 clubs and an interest group (referees).
A statement signed by the outgoing president, Sidy Diallo, announced the suspension of the election stating that the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) which is responsible for validating the applications had “violated the electoral code ”
The statement also added that “the electoral process no longer inspires confidence and that the neutrality of certain members of the electoral body was in doubt.”
The Executive Committee said it had received complaints from some members of the electoral body about certain actions of its Chairman, René Diby, which put the integrity of the whole process in doubt.
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The Committee’s statement said it had “received a note, sent by 4 members of the Electoral Commission, denouncing the actions of the Chairman of their commission and declaring that they do not align themselves with the decisions that he and certain members of the commission have adopted.”
Diby had reportedly approved Drogba’s application due to pressure from the overwhelming popular support for Drogba’s candidacy, as hundreds of his supporters accompanied the former Chelsea striker to submit his forms.
He had believed that rejecting Drogba’s candidacy would have fuelled an already tense situation in the country with not just the FA Presidency elections but Ivory Coast’s presidential elections as well.
According to FIF, he admitted “to have acted in all naivety, to preserve social cohesion, in this sensitive period and to have found an ad hoc solution
This, FIF’s Executive Committee, feels compromises the elections.
A new Extraordinary General Assembly has been set for August 29 where a new electoral body will be convened and a new date will be set for the elections in Abidjan.
The statement concluded that the Executive Committee of FIF will ensure that the electoral processes adhere to the statutes of FIF, CAF, and FIFA.
Read excerpts of the statement from FIF below (in French):