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Ivory Coast Counts Vote After Boycotted Local Polls

  • VOA News

A voter fills out his ballot behind a privacy screen, at a polling station in the Cocody neighborhood of Abidjan, April 21, 2013.

A voter fills out his ballot behind a privacy screen, at a polling station in the Cocody neighborhood of Abidjan, April 21, 2013.

Election officials in Ivory Coast are counting ballots after local elections Sunday that were boycotted by the party of former president Laurent Gbagbo.

A spokesman for the country's Independent Electoral Commission said turnout was about 30 percent of the 5.7 million eligible voters.

Almost 700 candidates ran for municipal seats, with an additional 84 on the ballot for regional positions.

The elections are the first in Ivory Coast in more than a decade, and the first time the government of West Africa's largest economy has organized a vote since a disputed 2010 presidential contest plunged the country into violence.

With Gbagbo's party - the Popular Ivorian Front - out of the race, the election is a contest between the two parties in power -- President Alassane Ouattara's Rally of Republicans and the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast.

The FPI has demanded that authorities reform the electoral commission and grant an amnesty for crimes committed during the 2010-'11 election crisis.

The United Nations estimates that at least 3,000 people died in five months of fighting after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to the winner and current president, Ouattara.

The final days of the campaign saw clashes in several areas including Abidjan and towns in the west - an unstable, violence-prone region.
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