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Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo declared his candidacy in the
country's long-delayed presidential elections, now scheduled for
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo's remarks were met with
thunderous applause, as he filed his candidacy for the country's
presidential elections, now scheduled for November 29.
Gbagbo says he is the candidate for Ivory Coast. He says he is the
candidate for the men and women of Ivory Coast. He says he is the
candidate to continue the fight they began and to continue the fight
their parents and grandparents began in the 1940s, a fight Mr. Gbagbo
says some have abandoned. He says he is the candidate for Ivory Coast
and the fight is moving forward.
The presidential poll, which
has been postponed several times since 2005, is an attempt to find a
lasting political solution to nearly a decade of internal conflict in
the once stable West African nation.
Mr. Gbagbo said this election will take place not just to choose a president but also to usher in a new era for Ivory Coast.
elected to his first five-year term in 2000, President Gbagbo has led
Ivory Coast for nine years through a failed coup attempt, a civil war
and the country's tortuous reunification process.
Civil war cut
the nation in half in 2002, after rebels attempting to overthrow
President Gbagbo took control of the northern part of the country.
Thousands were killed in the conflict, and the country, though now at
peace, remains tense and fractured. The country has since missed
deadlines for presidential elections set by the peace accords of 2007
and late 2008 which created a transitional, power-sharing government.
Mr. Gbagbo remained president, while rebel leader Guillaume Soro took
the role of prime minister.
President Gbagbo's mandate ran out
in October 2005, and members of the opposition have accused him of
stalling the presidential election to stay in power.
this fall, Mr. Gbagbo has insisted that there are no longer any
political obstacles to the elections, which he has said must take place
in 2009. Government officials and international observers have blamed
technical problems related to voter identification and registration for
recent delays. Anti-immigrant sentiment and issues of nationality,
particularly who can run and vote in elections, were at the heart of
the conflict and remain sensitive.
Last week's publication of
the provisional voter list after a two-month delay was an important
milestone as the country struggles to make the November 29 poll date.
Yet, just six weeks before the poll, the list of more than 6.3 million
names has yet to be posted in the the country's 11,000 polling
stations. The list must be agreed upon by voters and political parties
before ballots can be printed.
Saturday was the deadline for
candidates to register for the race, and Mr. Gbagbo's name brings the
list of presidential hopefuls to 20. He is the candidate for a
coalition of a dozen political parties that call themselves the
Presidential Majority and is seen as a frontrunner in the race. His
primary challengers will be former Ivorian president Henri Konan Bedie
and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara.
Members of the
opposition continue to insist that the presidential elections take
place as planned on November 29, but observers fear there is still too
much work to be done and scrambling to make the deadline could result
in a flawed poll.