West African observers for Ivorian vote
Lagos - West African regional group Ecowas said on Saturday it will deploy 60 observers for this month's legislative election in Ivory Coast, the first after last year's disputed presidential vote.
The 15-member Economic Community of West African States said observers would "oversee the legislative election of 11 December 2011 in Cote d'Ivoire at the special request of that government."
It said over 1 000 candidates from 35 political parties would contest 255 parliamentary seats throughout the war-weary west African country.
"This election is taking place at a crucial time in the stabilisation process of the country and will represent a milestone in the final exit from the recent Ivorian crisis," Ecowas said.
"It will also constitute an important step in the participation by all stakeholders in national reconstruction and socio-economic development as well as the overall consolidation of democracy in Cote d'Ivoire," it added.
The regional bloc urged all candidates, their followers and supporters to maintain peace and order throughout the vote.
Ivory Coast was plunged into political crisis when incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Alassane Ouattara in a November 2010 election, sparking a crisis that left 3 000 people dead and brought the nation back to the brink of civil war.
Ouattara eventually unseated Gbagbo with UN and French military support in April and was sworn in as the new president.
Gbagbo was this week transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces four counts of crimes against humanity.