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Ivory Coast: Voters Approve New Constitution


FILE - A polling official counts ballots at a polling station during the referendum for a new constitution, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Oct. 30, 2016.

FILE - A polling official counts ballots at a polling station during the referendum for a new constitution, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Oct. 30, 2016.

Ivory Coast voters have approved a new constitution, the electoral commission announced Tuesday. However, the opposition — which had called for a boycott — is contesting the 42 percent official turnout as inflated and, therefore, not legitimate.

After two days of tallying the votes, the electoral commission’s official results show 93 percent of voters were in favor of the new constitution, which creates a post of deputy president, sets up a senate, and softens a controversial clause on nationality. The change also removes the age limit of 75 for presidential candidates.

FILE - Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara, left, and his wife, Dominique Ouattara, cast their ballots during the Ivory Coast referendum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Oct. 30, 2016.

FILE - Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara, left, and his wife, Dominique Ouattara, cast their ballots during the Ivory Coast referendum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Oct. 30, 2016.

The opposition contested the vote, saying the new constitution was a move by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara to reinforce the ruling party's grip on the institutions. An opposition coalition had called for a boycott of the election, making the turnout the key element for the legitimacy of the poll.

While the ballots were still being counted, some opposition leaders claimed the turnout was between 5 and 7 percent.

But official results in some areas show a higher participation rate than during last year's presidential elections, which prompted opposition leaders to assert the results were inflated.

"Everybody saw the electoral desert of October 30,” said opposition member Bamba Morifere. “Ivorians didn't go to the polls. Mr. Ouattara gave an order to inflate the participation rate. We will not recognize this number, and we're calling for the people to resist this imposture."

The electoral commission is to send the results to the Constitutional Court for review.

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