Electoral commission (CEI) president Youssouf Bakayoko gave a last minute news conference late on Monday night to reassure voters, 80 percent of whom turned out for the poll, that they would release results as soon as possible.
But he added that not all the ballots had been delivered because of logistical delays. At least some would start coming out on Tuesday, he said.
Ballot papers were still being transferred to the main city of Abidjan by U.N. peacekeepers, who will audit the counting. A few thousand votes from Ivorians abroad have been published.
“I want to reassure you that the electoral commission is totally aware that after an election we have to give the results, but we are still within the deadline (of Wednesday),” he told the news conference.
Observers said they were urging the commission to be transparent and release results as soon as they have them.
Sunday’s vote in the world’s top cocoa grower is meant to reunite a country torn by a 2002-2003 civil war and whose economy suffered from political deadlock that forced six postponements of elections to date and prevented reform of a cocoa sector that feeds 40 percent of the world market.
“The sooner they give results the more it eases the tension. If they give results little by little, it allows people to be prepared,” said independent analyst Gilles Yabi.
Candidates were coming under growing international pressure to accept the results, amid fears of street violence should the result be disputed as in past polls. The U.N. and Ivory Coast’s former colonial master France both urged calm acceptance.
The United Nations’ top official in Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi met with President Laurent Gbagbo and his main rivals Henri Konan Bedie, an ex-president ousted in a 1999 coup, and Alassane Ouattara, a former prime minister and IMF official, in an effort to ensure all accept the verdict.
He said he was sure the electoral commission would deliver.
“I have no about they will do it. (There are) delays here and there. The reasons are purely technical, not politically motivated,” Choi, whose mission includes 9,500 police and soldiers, told Reuters on Monday.
But Ivorians, who have already waited five years for this poll, were increasingly sceptical.
“Seeing how well organised the CEI agents are, we’re looking at the end of the month,” said a Twitter post.
Analysts expect a run-off next month between the top two candidates, rather than any one winning outright. Reuters