Speech by Terence P. McCulley, Ambassador of the U.S. in Cote d’Ivoire on the occasion of the launch ceremony

Ambassador Terence P. McCulley

Ladies and gentlemen,

The launch of the electoral assistance program offers me the opportunity once again to encourage the ongoing efforts of the Ivoirian Government to hold transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections in Côte d’Ivoire. Electoral reforms initiated by the government to ensure that the elections are carried out responsibly are encouraging signs.

To this end, the adoption by the Committee on General and Institutional Affairs of the National Assembly of the legislation expanding the Executive Board of the Independent Electoral Commission from six to nine members demonstrates the government of Côte d’Ivoire’s commitment to ensure broad participation in an institution responsible for ensuring an inclusive, transparent, and credible election in 2015. I congratulate the government and the National Assembly for passing the bill by a large majority during the final plenary session.

Building an electoral system is a complex process. In the United States, the election of our first president in 1789 was a direct consequence of the choice made by our founding fathers to make democracy the political system that gives power and responsibility to the American people.

I can assure you that even the United States, we continue to work to improve our electoral system. In the same way, I urge Ivorian political actors to work together for the people of Cote d’Ivoire and generations to come.

The next election in Côte d’Ivoire will be an important barometer for the maturity of the Ivorian democracy, and a stability test for the institutions that underpin the country. They also provide the test to measure the resilience of Cote d’Ivoire on its ambition of becoming an emerging economy by 2020. I urge all stakeholders including civil society, the media, traditional and religious leaders and others to play their part alongside the government to foster a climate of peace, serenity and confidence. It is in the best interests of Cote d’Ivoire to do so.

Beyond the 2015 elections, Cote d’Ivoire must consolidate its position as a model of economic and political stability, resuming its place as the economic engine of the region. The economic outlook is promising for Cote d’Ivoire. Economic progress is exemplary. In 2013, growth is estimated at 8.8%. Is expected to remain at 8% in the medium term due to continued social reforms and improving the business climate. The conduct of the 2015 elections will be an important factor in achieving Cote d’Ivoire’s vision of becoming an emerging country by the end of the second decade of the century.

The upcoming elections should help to erase the national consciousness and the perception of fear of elections and the social strife that has accompanied them in the past. They must help to reach the much sought after national consensus and consolidate social peace and national reconciliation.

Our support for this electoral assistance program is implemented by our implementing partners, NDI and IFES. Both structures have a long history in supporting the electoral system and the democratic process in the world. I am convinced that NDI and IFES, -well known Ivorian institutions – will provide the technical expertise necessary to complete the reforms in cooperation with the authorities in charge of elections. This four-year program aims to work on all elections and election observation. I encourage you to give them the necessary support in the conduct of their activities.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to once again bring the encouragement of the US government in this noble task of organizing elections. The task is difficult, but doable. The Government of the United States of America stands with you and reaffirms its commitment to support this beautiful country of Cote d’Ivoire on the path of peace, democracy and development

Thank you.