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Parties to Ivory Coast Crisis Say Elections Cannot Take Place

  • Gabi Menezes

A legal advisor to the Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo says if the country is still divided, elections cannot take place and Mr. Gbagbo must remain the president. The Monday deadline for disarmament in Ivory Coast has passed without results, but talks in South Africa to resolve the situation have yielded a new agreement on disarmament.

The judicial affairs advisor to Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, Siene Oulai, said it would be impossible to hold October elections with Ivory Coast divided between a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south. Mr. Oulai said it would only be possible to go to elections in a united country.

The former justice quoted Article 38 of the Ivorian constitution, which says if there is a threat to the territorial integrity of the country, the constitutional commission must decide in 24 hours to stop the electoral process or suspend the announcement of results.

Mr. Oulai added that according to Article 39, if elections are interrupted, President Gbagbo must remain in office.

Mr. Oulai said the constitution requires the president to remain in office until his successor takes over. He added if there are no elections, the life of the country will continue.

Most of the president's opponents agree that elections in the country cannot take place under present circumstances. But that say Mr. Gbagbo should leave the presidency after October.

Opposition leader, Anaky Kobenan, says there are too many weapons and people who want to fight to hold an election.

"We think today maybe the best thing for Cote d'Ivoire should be what we call a transition," he said. "A transition means after October the head of state, Mr. Gbagbo, will no more be the head of state. So if at this time, the political forces involved in this crisis were ready to sit down now, and see the best way to run the country for maybe two or three years."

Ivory Coast has been divided since 2002 when an armed rebellion sparked a civil war.

Several peace accords have been signed by the parties, but have failed to be implemented. An April peace agreement signed in Pretoria has been blocked, because rebels refuse to disarm. But Ivory Coast leaders agreed at South African-brokered talks in Pretoria Wednesday, to disarm rebels and dismantle pro-government militias.