AU urges Ivory Coast to go to poll

ADDIS ABABA - The African Union called yesterday on Ivory Coast to hold its presidential election, delayed since 2005, by the agreed deadline of early May.

ADDIS ABABA - The African Union called yesterday on Ivory Coast to hold its presidential election, delayed since 2005, by the agreed deadline of early May.

The African Union's Peace and Security Council urged all political forces in Ivory Coast to work to create a climate that would allow the holding of a "free, legal and transparent election within the agreed time frame".

President Laurent Gbagbo sacked the country's Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) and the government last month, triggering a fresh political crisis, with the putting down of sometimes violent demonstrations leading to at least seven deaths.

He had accused the CEI of fraud in putting together the list of eligible voters.

The AU welcomed the installation of a new CEI and government last week, calling for "all parties to immediately provide their full support to the CEI".

The government, again led by Guillaume Soro, the head of the former rebel New Forces (FN), includes more representatives of other opposition parties.

Ivory Coast has been split in two since a foiled coup against Gbagbo in 2002 and the FN mainly holds the north, while the south is largely in the hands of supporters of Gbagbo's Ivorian Patriotic Front.

Gbagbo is still in power after the vote was postponed six times.

The new head of the CEI, Youssouf Bakayoko, a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, gave no date for holding the long-awaited election when he took up his office last week. - Sapa-AFP

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