At least two dead in Ivory Coast pre-election violence

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  • At least two people have been killed in election-related violence in Ivory Coast, two weeks before presidential polls are due to be held.
  • The home of an opposition presidential candidate was also burnt down during clashes since Friday.
  • The violence is understood to stem from President Alassane Ouattara seeking third term with former president Henri Konan Bedie among those challenging him.

At least two people have been killed in election-related violence in Ivory Coast since Friday, witnesses said on Sunday, two weeks before presidential polls are due to be held.

The clashes occurred around the city of Bongouanou, a stronghold of opposition candidate Pascal Affi N'Guessan 200 kilometres north of the economic hub Abidjan, the witnesses said.

A trader from an ethnic group considered pro-opposition was shot and hacked to death, a family member told AFP, while at least one person from a group considered pro-government was also killed in the area, according to several witnesses and a hospital source.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara seeking third term, is speculated by many as the cause of all the violence that is happening

Clashes break out

The home of an opposition presidential candidate was burnt down during clashes in Ivory Coast, local residents and officials said on Saturday, two weeks before an election.

Violence began on Friday in Bongouanou, the stronghold of opposition candidate and former prime minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan, with residents from different ethnic groups fighting with machetes while houses and shops were set on fire.

"They burnt down my house," Affi N'Guessan told AFP.

"The people were transported from Abidjan. They targeted the property of opposition leaders."

READ | Ivory Coast court clears President Alassane Ouattara's third-term bid as fresh violence erupts

Residents contacted by AFP said people from the local Agni ethnic group were fighting Dioula people from northern Ivory Coast, who back current President Alassane Ouattara.

"The situation is untenable... We have a lot of wounded people being taken to hospital," said Mathieu, who lives in Bongouanou.

About 15 people were killed in inter-communal violence in August and September in several cities across the country after Ouattara announced his intention to run for a third term.

MUST READ | Ivory Coast opposition rallies against President Ouattara's third term bid

Meanwhile, dozens of would-be candidates were barred from running in the election, including former president Laurent Gbagbo and ex-rebel chief Guillaume Soro, both of whom played key roles in the crisis that engulfed the country after disputed elections in 2010.

The opposition on Thursday asked supporters not to take part in electoral events and campaigning in a step towards a potential boycott.

Several high-profile figures, including Affi N'Guessan, have also called for "civil disobedience" in recent weeks.

'Deep concern'

Ouattara officially launched his campaign on Friday, addressing thousands in a rally in the country's second-biggest city, Bouake.

In addition to Ouattara and Affi N'Guessan, former president Henri Konan Bedie and former parliamentarian Kouadio Konan Bertin are in the running for the 31 October poll.

After his re-election in 2015, Ouattara announced in March that he would not seek a third term.

But he changed his mind after his preferred successor, prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a sudden heart attack in July.

Ouattara and his supporters have argued that a 2016 revision of the constitution reset the limit on the number of terms.

Last week, a delegation of African and UN envoys expressed "deep concern" ahead of the vote.

Last month, the International Crisis Group called for a postponement and suggested political exiles be allowed to return to Ivory Coast.

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