[QODLink]
Africa
Ivory Coast legislative polls open amid tension
First parliamentary poll since disputed presidential elections, as party of ex-leader Laurent Gbagbo calls for boycott
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2011 08:11

UN tanks are patrolling Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan, as polls open for parliamentary elections, the first such voting since a disputed presidential poll one year ago sparked months of violence.

Officials hope a calm election on Sunday will bring help bring stability and usher in a period of economic growth in the West African nation.

Violence erupted at the end of last year after the incumbent president at the time, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down in favour of the winner President Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of four counts of crimes against humanity.

He is accused of being an "indirect co-perpetrator" of murder, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts.

Boycott

Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front party (FPI) has called for a boycott of the elections.

 Ouattara was recognised internationally as the winner of last year's election [Reuters]

The FPI says the electoral commission is loyal to the new ruling party, and will manipulate the results, as sbout 950 candidates vying for 255 spots.

They also claim that the army under Ouattara's command is leading a campaign of intimidation against their supporters.

For months, a UN peacekeeping mission has been carrying out educational campaigns over the vote.

The UN has deployed 7,000 troops to provide security, and 25,000 Ivorian police and military to guard the poll.

Thousands of people were killed in the months that followed the presidential poll last November, after Gbagbo refused to hand over power, claiming he had won.

'Not inclusive'

The boycott by Gbagbo's party is seen as a politically strategic move, as for months the party has said it would only participate if the government freed the former president and his allies.

Sylvain Miaka Ouretto, who now leads the FPI called the elections a "masquerade organised by the powers in place," describing then as "not inclusive".

Gbagbo's transfer to the ICC has also given the party a justification to turn its back on the reconciliation process, which was launched formally in September.

The majority of Gbagbo's entourage are in prison or under house arrest, including his ministers and the former first lady.

Tens of thousands of his supporters are still in refugee camps in neighboring Ghana and Liberia where they fled after Ouattara's forces seized this commercial capital.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
About 500,000 participated around the globe in the Peoples Climate March, and Al Jazeera spoke to some in New York.
Separatist movements in Spain, Belgium and Italy may face headwinds following Scotland's decision to stay in the UK.
A fishing trawler carrying 500 migrants across the Mediterranean was rammed by another boat, causing hundreds to drown.
Anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party - with roots in the neo-Nazi movement - recently won 12.9 percent of the vote.
Palestinian doctor who lost three daughters in previous Gaza war is fighting to bring 100 wounded kids to Canada.