Protesters: Bedie robbed of poll

2010-11-04 18:27

Abidjan - Several hundred young supporters of Ivory Coast presidential candidate Henri Konan Bedie demonstrated in Abidjan on Thursday against what they called the "electoral robbery" that cost him Sunday's poll.

Meeting outside the headquarters of the once sole ruling Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) in the chic Cocody district of the economic capital, the youths put up barricades and burned tyres.

Some defied the police present at the scene with shouts of "Gbagbo thief" - in reference to outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo, who is a candidate for his own succession - and "We are going to install Bedie."

Amid shouts and whistles, a youth official from PDCI, Zie Coulibaly, told AFP that the demonstrators meant to denounce an "electoral robbery" at the expense of Bedie, who took about a quarter of the votes.

The former president of the cocoa-rich country was officially said on Wednesday to have come in third place behind Gbagbo and former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, who will go to a run-off.

Bedie in third place

Coulibaly said that the president of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), Youssouf Bakayoko, must resign, even though he is a PDCI member.

On Wednesday night, even before the complete provisional results of the election were released, Bedie supporters complained of a "manifest desire to meddle" with the figures and called for a full recount of the ballot papers.

The 65-year-old Gbagbo, in power for a decade, won just over 38% of votes cast on Sunday, and ex-prime minister Ouattara took 32%, according to final results announced by the CEI, which still need to be validated by the constitutional council.

Bedie won 25.24% of approximately 4.5 million votes cast.

The run-off between Gbagbo and Ouattara is likely to be scheduled for November 28, according to electoral officials.

The election is meant to be a vital step in ending a political and military crisis that has left Ivory Coast divided since a foiled coup against Gbagbo in 2002, with the south in government hands and the north run by former rebels.

Gbagbo's mandate ran out in 2005, but the presidential poll was postponed six times because of problems with the electoral register and who had the right to vote, as well as the demobilisation of the ex-rebels.