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Ivory Coast Presidential Candidates Agree on Voter List

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

Presidential candidates in Ivory Coast have accepted a new voter list for a much-postponed election now scheduled for the end of October.

Disputes over voter eligibility in Ivory Coast have been the biggest obstacle to an election that has been delayed seven times in the past five years. So all the candidates agreeing on a new electoral list is the clearest sign yet that this vote may finally take place.

Prime Minister Guillaume Soro made the announcement in a joint appearance with President Laurent Gbagbo and his electoral rivals Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bedie.

Prime Minister Soro says together, the men have agreed presidential elections will actually take place on October 31. So it is necessary to move forward toward a definitive electoral list, and he says he is happy to say that all of them agree on this definitive list.

Prime Minister Soro says they are all asking the president of the independent national electoral commission to make this list available to the public this week. They are also asking the electoral chairman to make sure the vote is organized so that all ballot papers and all electoral documents are ready on schedule.

The prime minister says the men, together, agree that this vote should be held in a climate of serenity and tranquility.

Seven months ago, opposition demonstrators staged violent protests against President Gbagbo dissolving the government and the electoral commission because he said more than 400,000 people were illegally registered to vote.

Questions of voter eligibility in Ivory Coast focus primarily on descendants of migrant workers from Burkina Faso and Mali. The president's supporters dispute their nationality. Opposition leaders say those objections are meant to disenfranchise people who are unlikely to vote for the ruling party.

The vote is meant to reunite the country after fighting in 2002 divided Ivory Coast between north and south. Under a 2007 peace deal, rebels in the north were to be disarmed. Instead, rebels say their forces will be confined to barracks for the vote.