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New October date announced for much-delayed presidential elections

Video by Josh VARDEY

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2010-08-06

Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro (pictured) announced Thursday that presidential elections in the divided country - which were originally meant to take place in 2005 - will now be held on October 31 of this year.

REUTERS - Ivory Coast will hold elections on Oct. 31, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said on Thursday, announcing a new date for polls first meant to take place in 2005.

The previous deadline for elections, in November last year, was missed and the electoral process has collapsed into political wrangling.

 
The polls are badly needed to end years of crisis and economic stagnation following a war in 2002-03 that divided the world's top cocoa growing nation in two.

"It is on the proposal of the Independent Electoral Commission that today cabinet decided to take the 31st October to be the date of the election," Soro told journalists after a cabinet meeting.

The polls were first meant to happen in 2005 but rows over rebel disarmament and voter identity have caused so many deadlines to be missed that few Ivorians believe their politicians any more when they announce election dates.

The electoral process had been stalled since February, when President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the electoral commission after accusing its former head, an opposition leader, of illegally adding names to the register.

Disputes still remain over a so-called grey list of about a million would-be voters who registered but whose nationality is in doubt, a row that has become a major hurdle to the final electoral roll.

Gbagbo's nationalist supporters suspect the grey list is full of foreigners from Burkina Faso and Mali and want it audited -- a sensitive issue for a country that went to war over
it.

Critics accuse Gbagbo of deliberately delaying the process because he fears he will lose if Ivory Coast goes to the polls now, a charge he has repeatedly denied.

Date created : 2010-08-05

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