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Party leaders postpone presidential elections

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-10

In a much expected move, political parties have decided to delay the Ivory Coast's post-war presidential elections due to voter registration and security issues.

Ivory Coast's main political parties said Monday that presidential elections set for November 30 would be delayed because of difficulties over voter-identification and security.
   
The parties agreed after talks in Burkina Faso that "it is impossible to organise the presidential elections on the date of November 30," adding that they had instructed the electoral commission to submit a new timetable for the vote, before December 31.
   
Participants in the talks in Ouagadougo included Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, former rebel chief and current Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, and opposition leaders Henri Konan Bedie, Gbagbo's predecessor as president, and former premier Alassane Ouattara.
   
The meeting was being presided over by Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, who is guarantor of the Ouagadougou peace agreement of March 2007 which ended the Ivory Coast crisis.
   
Compaore said Monday that he hoped the voter registration would be done before the start of 2009.
   
"The important thing is not to set a date without taking into account the principal issue which is voter registration... We hope that we will be able to finish that between now and the start of the new year," Compaore said.
   
Ivory Coast, the former star French colony which is still the world's biggest cocoa exporter, has put off elections several times since Gbagbo's mandate ran out in October 2005.
   
Since Soro's rebel New Forces tried to oust Gbagbo in 2002 they have controlled the north of Ivory Coast, while UN and French peacekeepers have held the line between the two sides. The 2007 Ouagadougou peace agreements saw Soro become prime minister in a powersharing government and set a timetable for the presidential election.
   
Monday's meeting came after the UN Security Council expressed impatience with Ivory Coast over its sluggish preparations for the elections.
   
It urged Friday the country's political parties to make sure the vote is held no later than mid-2009.
   
The council said it had "deep concern about a possible third consecutive delay since the signature of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, which could put at risk the entire Ivorian peace process."
   
Since the official identification process started on September 15, there has been a string of delays in registering up to nine million potential voters.
   
The identification process is needed to update the electoral lists from 2000, the last time presidential elections were held in the West African country.
  

Date created : 2008-11-10

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