Ivory Coast to hold poll in spite of riots

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The Independent Online


Abidjan - Ivory Coast's President, Henri Konan Bedie, told opposition leaders yesterday there was no question of postponing presidential elections due in three weeks, despite violent protests which shook the country this week. "I will not go back on the electoral law," he told about 90 representatives of political parties.

Mr Bedie, himself a candidate in the 22 October poll, attacked opposition leaders for calling protests on Monday in which at least three people were killed. The opposition wants the government to withdraw a new electoral law which prevents the former prime minister, Alassane Ouattara, from standing for president in the election.

It also wants an independent electoral commission to oversee the presidential ballot and parliamentary and municipal elections in November and December.

"The implementation of these reforms requires the postponement of the elections," said Laurent Gbagbo, leader of the main opposition party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI).

Djeny Kobina, whose Rally of the Republicans picked Mr Ouattara as their presidential candidate in July, has also called for a postponement.

Mr Gbagbo has refused to register his candidacy for the presidential poll, saying the vote cannot be free under the conditions set by Mr Bedie.

At least three people were killed and several wounded in protests against the electoral law on Monday. Protesters in the outskirts of Abidjan threw up barricades, set fire to cars and stoned police, who responded with tear-gas.