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Feuding parties agree to poll, Burkina mediator says

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-23

A full-scale political crisis in Ivory Coast looks to have been avoided with both political parties agreeing Tuesday to hold long-delayed presidential polls in "late April, early May".

AFP - Feuding political parties in Ivory Coast agreed Tuesday to hold long-delayed presidential polls in "late April, early May," the mediator in the country's political crisis announced.

West African mediator Blaise Compaore's office said in a statement the parties and he had agreed to draw up a new electoral calendar "in order to hold the first round of a presidential election in late April, early May".

A reconstituted Independent Electoral Commission, to replace the one sacked along with the government on February 12 by President Laurent Gbagbo, has also been agreed, sources said.

Opposition parties had warned earlier Tuesday that they would continue street protests until the election body was reinstated, and cast doubt on whether they would join a new government expected to be announced later in the day.

Gbagbo sparked the current crisis when he sacked the government and electoral commission, leading to opposition charges that he was seeking to delay elections, which had tentatively been set for early March.

Gbagbo accused the electoral commission chief of fraud, saying he was stacking the voters' roll with opposition votes.

Prime Minister Guillaume Soro was expected to announce a new government after Compaore, Burkina Faso's president, announced late Monday a deal had been sealed to avert a political crisis and keep the long-awaited elections in sight.

The vote is designed to unify a nation split between the Gbagbo-dominated south and the north, controlled by Soro's ex-rebel New Forces party.

They agreed to share power in a peace deal in 2007 to end a conflict which began with an unsuccessful bid to oust the president in 2002.

Elections have been delayed six times since Gbagbo's mandate ran out, in 2005.

Under Monday's deal, the main parties pledged "to reconstruct the Ivory Coast government (and) to reconstitute the Independent Electoral Commission this week," Compaore said on Monday.

Compaore gave no details on how agreement was reached.

He said however it would "allow work very quickly on the quality of the electoral list... but especially to accomplish the other tasks that will allow us to set a date very quickly for the presidential election this year."

Soro told journalists that Monday's talks had "allowed Ivorian political actors to agree to advance the process of ending the crisis and above all to bring peace back to our country."

"Tomorrow I will announce the Ivory Coast government and soon after we will hold our cabinet meeting," he said.

Gbagbo's shock February 12 announcement sparked violent protests across the country: in the latest, two people died Monday in clashes between security forces and demonstrators in the western town of Daloa, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Five people were killed in protests last week.

Date created : 2010-02-23

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