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UN: Ivory Coast Elections Impossible by October 31 Deadline


The head of the United Nations mission in Ivory Coast says the country cannot make an October 31 deadline for presidential elections.

Pierre Schori said Wednesday that beating the deadline would be technically impossible because voter identification and registration are not finished.

Reuters news agency quotes Schori as saying that Ivorian politicians seem to lack the political will to make the elections happen.

The U.N. is overseeing a peace process intended to return Ivory Coast to normalcy, following a 2002 civil war that split it into rebel and government-held areas.

The Security Council set October 31 as the election deadline when it extended the mandate of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo last year. But election preparations have been repeatedly delayed by disputes between the president, opposition parties, and the rebels.

The presidential elections were originally set for October 2005, but were called off when the northern rebels and southern militias loyal to Mr. Gbagbo failed to disarm.

Recently, the New Forces rebels accused the government of slowing down the citizen identification process, which is considered a necessary step before the elections can go forward.

Mr. Gbagbo has said his government will stay in power until the new elections are organized. But his opponents said last week they reject any attempt to extend the president's term after it expires at the end of October.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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