IVORY COAST

Elusive presidential election set for new delay

Ivory Coast's long-awaited presidential election will not be taking place next month as scheduled, the website of President Laurent Gbagbo has announced, signalling the latest in a string of postponements that have stretched over the past five years.

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AFP - Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has said long-awaited presidential elections scheduled for next month will be delayed, blaming the problems on voting lists, his website said Friday.

The delay to the November 29 vote would be the latest in a string of postponements. The ballot has been put off repeatedly since 2005 when Gbagbo's mandate expired.

"We can fix a date to do something but with the reality on the ground, we cannot respect it," he said on Thursday during a visit to the central city of Yamoussoukro, according to the website of the presidency.

He raised the possibility of problems being overcome by mid-December, after which a vote would take place. 

Gbagbo pointed to a delay in publishing provisional voter lists, which must be checked by authorities before a ballot can go ahead.

These lists must be displayed at the latest 30 days before a vote, according to election law in the west African country.

But with less than month to go before the scheduled November 29 ballot, the provisional lists are yet to be published by the independent electoral commission.

"If, for example, the provisional election list is put up... on November 3, consultation will end on December 3. So we will have passed November 29," Gbagbo said.

"Judges will have eight days to give their opinions on disputed cases. It will then be around mid-December," he said, adding that after the judges' decision a definitive list would be produced and elections could take place.      

Two provisional lists are meant to be published across the country, one with the names of confirmed voters, and a second with the names of disputed voters whose nationalities are unknown.  

Gbagbo's mandate ran out in 2005 while the country was divided between the government-held south and the north, held by the rebel New Forces, who had tried to oust him in a September 2002 coup.

Gbagbo came to power in 2000 and has made peace with the New Forces, headed by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, but he still only presides over half of the cocoa-rich nation. The rest remains in the hands of the former rebels.
 

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