The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says it will send 60 observers to Ivory Coast next week to oversee parliamentary elections.

ECOWAS said Saturday, the election monitors are being sent at the request of the Ivorian government.

More than 1,000 candidates representing three dozen political parties are vying for 255 seats in parliament.  

ECOWAS says the December 11 elections are taking place at a crucial time, as the Ivory Coast moves to stabilize the government following last year's political crisis.

Embattled President Laurent Gbagbo refused to turn over authority to Alassane Ouattara after losing the November election, igniting a firestorm of violence that left at least 3,000 people dead.

Ouattara eventually assumed the presidency after incumbent Gbagbo was forcibly removed power.

Gbagbo arrived in the Netherlands this week for a hearing at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on four counts of crimes against humanity.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said there is evidence that both Gbagbo and Ouattara supporters committed war crimes.

Ouattara has created a reconciliation panel aimed at unifying Ivory Coast.  He has also vowed to hold accountable anyone who committed crimes during the unrest.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.