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Ivorian Opposition Candidates Have Shared Plan for Government

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Ivory Coast's four principal opposition candidates have signed a shared plan for government, should one of them win the presidential race.  The leaders said they could unite under a single opposition party after the poll.

Leaders of Ivory Coast's lead opposition coalition, the Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace, met Monday in the capital Yamoussoukro, less than two weeks before the country is slated to hold its long-delayed presidential poll.

Of the 14 presidential hopefuls, four come from the RHDP coalition, including lead opposition candidates, Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bedie.  On Monday, the four candidates signed an accord attesting to their shared vision for government if one of them gets elected.

Leaving the meeting Monday, former prime minister and lead opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, said the RHDP will govern together in peace.  He said this accord is an important step, the RHDP is now a reality and soon will be a single, unified party.

After five years of delays, Ivory Coast looks closer than ever to holding its presidential poll meant to reunite the country since a 2002 civil war split the country between north and south.

Analysts say the first round on October 31st is likely to be a tight contest between the three lead candidates - Ouattara, Bedie and current President Laurent Gbagbo.  There are concerns that disputes over results could reignite violence.

Mr. Gbagbo, who has said he is confident he will win the first round, has pledged to respect the results.  This vote, he said, is a chance for Ivory Coast to turn the page.

Mr. Gbagbo said they will do nothing in revenge.  He said they have to let go and forgive.  He said that for the past three years, the former rebel leader has been his prime minister and they have worked together.  He said that should inspire the country to build peace and get a fresh start.

U.N. peacekeepers and an Ivorian force, composed equally of government troops and former rebel soldiers, will be responsible for security during the poll.

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