Ivory Coast leader challenges poll

2010-11-06 10:46

Abidjan - Ivory Coast opposition leader Henri Konan Bedie has lodged a challenge to the results of an election in which he came third, leaving him out of the race for the second round, a spokesperson said on Friday.

Ivory Coast's first election in a decade left Bedie with around 25% of the vote, against President Laurent Gbagbo's 38% and challenger Alassane Ouattara's 32%. Gbagbo and Ouattara now head to the second round scheduled for November 28.

The long-delayed poll in the world's top cocoa grower is meant to reunite the once prosperous nation after the war of 2002-3 split it in two and left the north in the hands of rebels.

It is also the flashpoint of a bitter rivalry between the three main candidates, although widespread fears of street violence between their supporters have so far not come true.

Bedie alleged rigging and called for a recount shortly after the result was announced early on Thursday morning.

"We have lodged a challenge to the results with the independent electoral commission, demanding a recount, and now we are waiting for the response," Emile Ebrote, a spokesperson for Bedie's party, said.

Ivory Coast's constitutional court has until November 10 to hear all challenges and then validate the first round results.