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Ouattara coalition wins Ivorian elections

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-12-16

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's ruling coalition won parliamentary elections with 80 percent of the seats, according to provisional results issued early on Friday.

AFP - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's party won a parliamentary majority in Sunday's elections, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission said early Friday.

The party of former strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who is awaiting trial in The Hague, boycotted the poll.

Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) won 127 of the 254 seats up for grabs, with its main ally, the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI), getting 77, election commission head Youssouf Bakayoko said on public television.

Turnout in the vote was 36.56 percent, higher than the 2000 elections, Bakayoko added. But it was well down from the November 2010 presidential election when more than 80 percent voted.

A by-election was to be held shortly to fill a 255th seat after the death of a candidate.

The ruling coalition of the RDR, PDCI and small groupings won around 220 seats, with the remainder going to independents.

A government source said the RDR expected some independent MPs to join the party, giving it an absolute majority of around 129 or 130 seats.

Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) boycotted the country's first legislative poll since 2000, citing security concerns and the detention of the former president, whose release it says is a prerequisite for "reconciliation".

Ivory Coast -- once a beacon of stability in western Africa -- was plunged into bloody chaos when Gbagbo, 66, refused to accept defeat in a November 2010 presidential poll and clung to power for months.

The ensuing fighting left about 3,000 people dead.

Gbagbo -- who had already held on to his job for five years after his initial mandate expired in 2005 -- was captured in his presidential palace by pro-Ouattara forces in April, with support from French and UN troops.

As the first former head of state to be brought before the International Criminal Court, he faces four counts of crimes against humanity including murder, rape and inhuman acts allegedly committed by his troops between December 16, 2010 and April 12.

A confirmation of charges hearing -- to decide whether Gbagbo will eventually stand trial -- is to be held on June 18.

The ICC is also investigating other figures in the conflict.

Prime Minister and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, some of whose lieutenants have been charged with crimes, met ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his successor Fatou Bensouda in New York on Thursday.

With the victory of Ouattara's party confirmed, the next question will be whether Soro -- elected with a Soviet-style score of nearly 99 percent in his hometown of Ferkessedougou -- will retain his post as prime minister.

Soro, who gave a keynote speech Thursday to the ICC's member states, said he was ready to face an International Criminal Court trial for political killings if charged.

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, has been plagued by a decade of political and military crisis. The election campaign was marred by five deaths, but the legislative poll itself took place without serious incident.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has hailed a "peaceful and orderly" vote, and West African regional bloc ECOWAS said Tuesday that the elections had been free and fair despite a low turnout.

France said it saw the poll as "an important step in consolidating democracy and the ongoing process of reconstruction and reconciliation".

Date created : 2011-12-16


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