The appointment of the new Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) late on Thursday could be the catalyst for resolving the political crisis that developed after Gbagbo accused the former head of the commission of illegally adding names to the voter list to boost the opposition.

Confidence

Youssouf Bakayoko, a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) and a former foreign minister, was hailed by his rivals in the ruling Ivorain Popular Front after he was sworn in.

"We have confidence in this gentleman, even if he is a member of the PDCI," Sokouri Bohui, the Ivorian Popular front's national secretary for elections, told the AFP news agency.

"At the head of the CEI, he cannot manipulate the elections in favour of his own side [because] he has never worked [in a biased way] for his own camp."

The CEI is mandated to organise a presidential election that has been postponed six times since Gbagbo's mandate expired in 2005.

Bakayoko on Thursday swore he would ensure a "fair, transparent election, whose results will be acceptable to everybody".

However, the commission will first need to tackle the divisive issue of drawing up the voter list, including dealing with the disputed names that brought about the crisis.

There is also still dispute over the formation of the new government.

Guillaume Soro, the prime minister, announced a new administration on Tuesday, with places for both opposition parties, but only 16 of the 27 ministers were named as the opposition refused to put forwarsd its nominations.

The opposition had refused to enter the government until the electoral commission had been appointed, and Mady said n Friday that negottiations were still ongoing.

"We are not going to enter the government like wind enters a windmill," he told Reuters.