Ivory opposition makes new demand
Opposition delays joining government pending reinstatement of electoral commission.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2010 15:59 GMT
At least seven people have died in protests over the dissolution of the government [AFP]

Ivory Coast's two main opposition parties will join a newly formed government only when the country's independent electoral commission (CEI) is reinstated, an opposition leader has said.

"We are waiting for the new independent electoral commission (CEI) to be put in place first, then certainly we will join the government, but not before," Ali Coulibaly, a spokesman for the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), said on Wednesday.

Claiming to speak also on behalf of the Democratic Party (PDCI), the other principal opposition group, Coulibaly said: "For us, the priority is not the government but the CEI."

The announcement came a day after Guillaume Soro, the prime minister, said a new government would include members of the two main opposition parties.

Soro told journalists on Tuesday that the PDCI of presidential candidate Henri Konan Bedie and the RDR of candidate Alassane Ouattara would have ministries in the new government.

PM's announcement

"I have great hope that in 48 hours the government will have started its work.

Soro also promised to reinstall the independent electoral commission by Thursday.

"We are in the process of exiting this crisis and we must encourage it," Soro said.

Violent protests had engulfed the West African country after Laurent Gbagbo, the president, dissolved the government, accusing the electoral commission of illegally adding names to the voter register to boost the opposition.

That decision delayed a presidential poll that was already years due, sparking a public outcry.

At least seven people died in the protests.

Ivory Coast has been divided between a rebel-controlled north and a government-controlled south since war broke out in 2002.

The sides formed a unity government in 2007 and were preparing for presidential elections when Gbagbo dissolved the government on February 12.

Presidential elections have been postponed every year since 2005, when Gbagbo's term ended.

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