Ivory Coast president urges reconciliation ahead of key vote

2015-09-14 12:30
Alassane Ouattara. (File: AP)

Alassane Ouattara. (File: AP) (Rebecca Blackwell)

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Abidjan - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara called on his supporters to "forgive" their political opponents on Sunday, while also urging them to mobilise for upcoming presidential elections in which he is seeking a second term.

The ballot is viewed as crucial to return the country to stability. The last presidential vote, in 2010, triggered deadly violence following a 10-year political and military crisis.

Last week clashes erupted at anti-Ouattara protests by opposition groups and one person was killed, the first major outbreak of trouble ahead of the vote on October 25.

We must "reinforce reconciliation and social cohesion," Ouattara, 73, told Sunday's rally.

"I ask each of you to forgive... to act as if nothing had happened in the past, whatever the insults and humiliations," he said.

New election crisis

The West African nation's years of conflict left thousands dead and shattered the once thriving economy of the world's top cocoa-bean producer.

Ouattara seeks a second term on the strength of the nation's economic comeback after the violence five years ago triggered by ex-president Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to step down and acknowledge Ouattara's victory at the polls.

Gbagbo on November 10 will be hauled into the dock of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity for his role in the five months of 2010-2011 post-election violence that left more than 3 000 people dead.

In a separate incident on Sunday, Samba David, a Gbagbo supporter, was arrested at his home west of the capital.

The reason for his arrest was not immediately clear, but David is a member of a political party, the CNC, which opposes Ouattara and called on Thursday for protests against the incumbent.

The conditions for "a peaceful election have not been met. We march to avoid a new election crisis," he told to AFP last week.

Ten candidates are running in the presidential race.

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