Long-delayed Ivory Coast poll finally goes ahead

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Millions of Ivorians went to the polls yesterday for their first chance in a decade to choose a president, and observers said the long-delayed vote was proceeding peacefully.

The election is aimed at reuniting a nation split by a civil war in 2002-03 and whose once-healthy economy has been hamstrung by political deadlock that has forced six postponements of poll dates.

"This is a day of joy. We all thought it would never even happen and now it actually is ... The crisis is finished," said George Assamoi, a 40-year-old medic, as he waited to vote.