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Ivorian Political Leaders Confirm October 31 Poll Date

  • Anne Look

Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro (R) speaks during a meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo (2ndL) and party leaders at the presidential palace in Abidjan ahead of a presidential poll on October 31, 2010, 06 Sep 2010

Ivory Coast's political leaders say they are committed to holding a peaceful, transparent presidential poll in October, after meeting with regional mediator Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore.

Ivorians plan to go to the polls in less than six weeks for the country's long-delayed presidential election.

Vote postponed six times in five years

The vote is intended to reunite the country after a 2002 civil war, but it has been postponed six times in the past five years, largely due to disputes over voter eligibility and the creation of the voter list.

That debate came to an end earlier this month when presidential candidates accepted a definitive voter list, clearing the way for the poll now scheduled for October 31.

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo says it was something they have never been able to do before, and he is confident the vote will take place October 31. He says the political problems have been resolved. He says any additional delays would not be for political reasons. He says the questions that remain now are administrative.

Date set after meeting with regional mediator.

Mr. Gbagbo was in Ouagadougou on Tuesday, along with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and lead opposition candidates, Henri Konan Bedie and Alassane Ouattara, to meet with regional mediator, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore.

Mr. Compaore says at the meeting they discussed remaining questions about the vote, as well as potential difficulties that could hold up the process. He says he is hopeful that all will go well.

It was the group's seventh such meeting since the signing of the Ouagadougou peace accords in 2007.

Mr. Compaore said Tuesday, despite all the progress made, organizational and security challenges remain for the poll. The electoral list needs to be published, polling stations set up, and voter cards distributed, among other tasks.

Opposition protests in February killed seven and wounded dozens after President Gbagbo dissolved the government and electoral commission, which he accused of illegally registering as many as 400,000 people.

Leaving the meeting Tuesday, opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, said the elections will be peaceful. He said Ivorians have suffered too much as a result of recent crises and this vote will be transparent and democratic. It will be a chance, he says, for political leaders to show they can rise above personal ambitions and respect what Ivorians decide.

Ivorian and U.N. peacekeepers will provide security for the elections. The country's rebel factions in the north were set to be disarmed before the poll, but instead rebel leaders say their forces will be confined to barracks for the vote.