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Ivory Coast fears new violence

30 November 2010, 16:41

Abidjan - Renewed fears of fresh violence on Tuesday overshadowed first results from Ivory Coast's landmark leadership election, with President Laurent Gbagbo threatening to annul votes across a huge swathe of the country.

The election aims to end a decade of instability in the west African country, but the threat of disorder hung over the aftermath of Sunday's vote, marred by allegations of cheating and by violence that has killed seven people.

Tension reigned as the country braced itself for the first mainland results and the tone sharpened between the camps of Gbagbo and his rival candidate Alassane Ouattara.

Both had vowed to accept the outcome, but after charges of voting abuses Gbagbo's spokesperson Pascal Affi N'Guessan said his camp had applied to the electoral commission to have votes in the rebel-held north annulled.

"We reserve the right to act so that elections in these zones... be annulled because they did not respect the norms of a transparent election," he told reporters.

The United Nations mission insisted the vote had been conducted democratically overall despite isolated abuses, but each side accused the other of irregularities.

The electoral commission said late on Monday that with a few thousand overseas ballots counted, 60% had voted for challenger Ouattara and 40% for Gbagbo.

The commission at midday on Tuesday had yet to start announcing partial results from the millions of mainland voters.

Calls for calm multiplied amid fears that violence could escalate.

The election, postponed six times in five years, aimed to stabilise what was once west Africa's most prosperous country, in crisis following a 1999 coup and a 2002 civil war that split Ivory Coast in half between north and south.



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