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Crisis Group Wants Ivory Coast Polls Postponed

A new report by the peace advocacy organization called Crisis Group suggests that Ivory Coast should delay its presidential election, now scheduled for October, for several months. It also recommends that the African Union and United Nations organize them.

The country has been divided between a government-run south and rebel-held north since a failed coup attempt against President Laurent Gbagbo three years ago. Under peace plans supported by France and South Africa, the UN is to oversee a process of disarmament, followed by elections in october. But some observers say little progress has been made – by either the rebels or the government – in disarming or preparing for free and fair elections.

Next week, South Africa president Thabo Mbeki will try again to mediate discussions in Pretoria between Ivory Coast’s top political leaders. He’s expressed optimism about the outcome of the talks and says South Africa is willing to send troops to the country under the auspices of the United Nations.

Suleiman Baldo, Crisis Group’s Africa director, told VOA reporter William Eagle that he does not share President Mbeki’s positive outlook on the talks. Mr. Baldo says Ivory Coast’s ruling class has a record of signing international protocols but failing to follow through.