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Ivory Coast Names New Electoral Commission

Ivory Coast has a new electoral commission. The goal now is to organize presidential elections by May.

Ivory Coast's new electoral commission chose Former Foreign Affairs Minister Youssouf Bakayoko as its president.

Bakayoko says the commission will work to organize an election that is just, transparent, and has results that are acceptable to everyone.

President Laurent Gbagbo dismissed the previous electoral commission earlier this month because he said it was illegally registering as many as 400,000 people. His political opponents refused to take part in a new government until the electoral commission was re-established.

With opposition politician Bakayoko now atop that new commission, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro appears set to move ahead with a new coalition government.

Presidential elections meant to reunite the country after its 2002/2003 civil war have been postponed seven times since President Gbagbo's mandate expired in 2005. Regional mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, says the goal now is to have that vote in late April or early May.

Electoral Commission President Bakayoko says they have put in place a leadership team to accomplish that goal.

Bakayoko says the electoral commission had certain difficulties last time and is now going to try to surmount those difficulties so as to realize the hopes that people are placing in it.

One of the commission's most contentious jobs will be drawing up a final voter list. Six million people have registered for the vote. But nearly one million names are being challenged, chiefly on grounds of nationality.

The U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative for Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi says part of the solution is extending voter registration.

Choi says voter registration will be reopened until March 21 with the goal of publishing a definitive electoral list by March 31. That, he says, will allow for a presidential election by the beginning of May.