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1 Dead in Protests Over Ivory Coast President's Re-election Bid

  • Reuters

An Ivorian police officer stands near a burning bus in Abidjan, Sept. 10, 2015. Clashes broke out in several Ivorian cities after people tried to protest following the release of the names of candidates for October presidential elections.

An Ivorian police officer stands near a burning bus in Abidjan, Sept. 10, 2015. Clashes broke out in several Ivorian cities after people tried to protest following the release of the names of candidates for October presidential elections.

At least one person was killed and others were injured during protests in Ivory Coast over the validation of incumbent President Alassane Ouattara's candidacy for an October election, a Red Cross worker said on Friday.

The vote in the world's top cocoa grower is meant to draw a line under years of political turmoil and solidify a rapid economic revival that is turning the heads of foreign investors.

Demonstrations broke out in the commercial capital Abidjan and in the country's western cocoa growing regions on Thursday, a day after the constitutional court cleared 10 candidates, including Ouattara, to take part in the election.

The protests were called by a new opposition bloc, the National Coalition for Change (CNC), some of whose members come from a faction of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo's party who do not accept Ouattara's right to run over nationality issues.

"There was fighting between different groups among the population yesterday, and there was one death in a village near Bayota on the road from Gagnoa to Sinfra," the Red Cross official, based in the western town of Gagnoa, told Reuters.

There were also an unknown number of people wounded during the violence, he said, asking not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the press. There was no immediate police comment on the disturbances.

Protesters also burned a bus in Abidjan's Yopougon neighborhood before being dispersed by police firing tear gas.

"The demonstrators are responding to our call. This is to protest against the validation of Mr. Ouattara's candidacy," said Boubakar Kone, spokesman for a hardline faction of Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party that has joined the CNC.

Ivory Coast is emerging from a decade-long political crisis that ended with a 2011 civil war sparked by Gbagbo's refusal to accept Ouattara's victory in a 2010 run-off election.

Ouattara's exclusion from previous elections due to what his rivals claimed were doubts over his nationality was among the central causes of the years of turmoil.

Gbagbo, now in The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, hails from Ivory Coast's cocoa-rich west. Kone said the demonstrations would continue on Friday.

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