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Ivorian Opposition Concerned About Further Election Delays

The announcement last week of a new electoral commission appeared to put Ivory Coast back on track towards organizing its long-delayed presidential poll, now slated for May. But Ivorian opposition members warn the electoral process is again falling behind.

President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the government and former electoral commission on February 12, delaying the presidential vote for a seventh time and sparking violent protests around the country that left seven dead.

Mr. Gbagbo had accused the electoral commission of illegally registering as many as 400,000 voters. His political opponents have accused Mr. Gbagbo of stalling elections to remain in power.

As the country waits for Prime Minister Guillaume Soro to announce a new government, opposition members have called off protests, but warn Ivory Coast is again falling behind in the electoral process.

Albert Mabri Toikeusse a member of Ivory Coast's main RHDP opposition coalition (file photo)
Albert Mabri Toikeusse a member of Ivory Coast's main RHDP opposition coalition (file photo)

Opposition leader Albert Mabri Toikeusse is a member of Ivory Coast's main RHDP opposition coalition. He expressed concern over delays in getting the independent electoral commission up and running since it was reinstated last week.

He says the independent electoral commission is still barred from its offices and yet the review of the voter list should have begun March 1 in order to finish March 21. He says new election officials have not yet met with the former electoral commission head for an official transfer of power and the new electoral commission has not yet met to discuss a timeline. He says the country is already behind in the 21-day review period for the voter list.

The independent electoral commission is tasked with drawing up a final voter list by the end of March. Six million people have registered to vote, but nearly one million names are being challenged, chiefly on grounds of nationality.

Toikeusse says the RHDP coalition would be releasing its decision Wednesday as to who will be occupying the opposition posts in the new coalition government.

The presidential election is an attempt to reunify the once stable West African country after a 2002-2003 civil war and find a lasting political solution to nearly a decade of internal conflict.