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Top Opposition Official Detained by Gbagbo Supporters

Supporters of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday detained for several hours one of the leading opposition officials in the country. The detention came after allegations by opponents of the president that electoral lists are being tampered with ahead of elections later this year.

While returning from a Rally of Republicans party meeting Tuesday evening, the chairwoman of the party, Henriette Diabate, was blocked by members of a group called the Young Patriots, which is loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo.

Her convoy was stopped for several hours at a roadblock erected by the Young Patriots inYopougon, a suburb of Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan.

The youth leader of the Rally of Republicans in Yopougon, Drissa Ouattara, says the police had to be called in to free them from the detention.

He says that the police arrived and had to fire warning shots. Ultimately the detainees were freed, but he says all the party officials who were present were held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the evening. He says that the police then accompanied them back to the Hotel. Many RDR and rebel leaders reside in the hotel, which has also been the target of attacks.

Ouattara does not think that the latest attack was meant to cause any real harm to the RDR members.

He says that it was just a bit of provocation. He says that the Young Patriots do not want the RDR leadership going everywhere, because they claim to control some of the Ivorian territory. However, he adds, people in this country should respect each other.

The Young Patriots confirmed that they detained the RDR convoy. One of their leaders, Eugene Djue, tells VOA that RDR officials should not be able to go anywhere they want.

He says that the RDR leadership should not be able to move around freely in Abidjan. He says that in the same way that Young Patriots cannot go to the north, because that part of the country is under rebel control, they should be restricted too.

The attack came shortly after RDR officials accused Mr. Gbagbo's party of doctoring electoral lists ahead of elections later this year.

Mr. Gbagbo's party had previously alleged that the RDR, which is popular among northerners, had issued fake identity cards for foreigners, allowing them to take part in the elections.

One of the central issues of the Ivorian civil war is the voting rights of northerners.

Northern-based rebels attempted a coup against Mr. Gbagbo in 2002, and succeeded in gaining military control over that half of the country.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny is trying to ensure that elections and disarmament can take place by the end of October.