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Ivorians head to the polls for local elections

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-04-21

Ivorians headed to the polls on Sunday to vote in local elections, which President Alassane Ouattara’s government hopes will pave the way for a fresh political start after years of unrest. Ex-president Laurent Gbagbo’s party boycotted the ballot.

Ivorians voted Sunday in local elections seen as a trial run for a presidential poll in 2015 amid high tensions as the party of former president Laurent Gbagbo boycotted the poll.

Voting began Abidjan 's working-class Koumassi district about half an hour after the official 7:00 am (0700 GMT) starting time, with longer delays reported elsewhere in the west African country's main city and other urban centres.

Ivory Coast is still recovering from years of unrest which came to a head when Gbagbo refused to admit defeat in the 2010 presidential election.

Around 3,000 people died in the ensuing conflict before he was captured.

President Alassane Ouattara's government is hoping the municipal and regional polls will set the foundations for a fresh political start.

However, the final days of the campaign, which ended on Friday, were marred by physical clashes and invective.

Moreover, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), which backed Gbagbo during his 10-year rule (2000-2010) and after his arrest in April 2011, has dismissed the polls as a sham.

It has refused to take part, just as it boycotted parliamentary polls at the end of 2011, though a few breakaway activists are running as independents.

"Let's hope Ivorians learn from the past and stay on course for a true democracy," said a community leader in the central city of Bouake, Robert Koulade, after casting his ballot Sunday.

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-04-21

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