A hardline faction of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo's party called on Tuesday for a boycott of a presidential election in October meant to cement the West African nation's revival following a 2011 civil war.
Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in crimes against humanity committed during the conflict, sparked by his refusal to acknowledge defeat in the last presidential vote in 2010.
His Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) has boycotted parliamentary and local elections since the crisis but party president Pascal Affi N'Guessan has pledged to participate in the Oct. 25 polls and was last week picked as its candidate.
Hardliners led by Gbagbo's former foreign minister Aboudramane Sangare have refused to recognize N'Guessan as the FPI's leader.
"The Ivorian Popular Front ... asks its militants, sympathizers and the sovereign people of Ivory Coast not to associate themselves with an election farce with unforeseeable consequences," they said in a statement.
Their decision to boycott is likely to further divide Ivory Coast's principal opposition party and bolster the chances of incumbent President Alassane Ouattara, already heavily favored to win re-election.
It is also likely to deal a blow to the National Coalition for Change (CNC), a new political formation headed by former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny which the hardliners joined earlier this year.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower and French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, has seen a rapid post-war recovery under the stewardship of Ouattara that has turned the heads of foreign investors.
The government and many analysts believe peaceful polls could usher in a wave of foreign investment.
The Sangare faction, which has called for Gbagbo's immediate release by The Hague court, said the government had failed to meet its other demands, including the replacement of the head of the election commission.
It also criticized what it called the "unilateral" revision of voter rolls by the government. And, reviving a longstanding practice of questioning Ouattara's nationality, said he was ineligible to run according to the Ivorian constitution.
In the statement, the party urged its supporters to "remain mobilized, awaiting the Party's rallying cry and ready for the future battles to liberate and restore Ivory Coast."