Protesters riot in Ivory Coast

Protest over president’s decision to dissolve government turns violent in Bouake.

The violence in the town of Bouake is the latest in a series of protests against President Gbagbo [AFP]

“The police are here and they have launched tear gas to disperse us but we stayed,” Issa Diomande, a protester, said.

“They have not fired their guns yet. We are going to march all day”

Issa Diomande, protester

“They have not fired their guns yet. We are going to march all day.”

The military confirmed on national television that five people had been killed and nine wounded in Friday’s violent protests in Gagnoa.

Gbagbo had set a Friday deadline to form a new government but on Thursday Guillaume Soro, the prime minister, asked for a 48-hour extension.

However, an aide said it would not be announced until Monday.

“We’re saying the new government will be known on Monday,” Alain Lobognon, the special adviser to Soro, said.

The opposition accuse Gbagbo of stalling on presidential elections, which have been delayed since 2005.

Opposition anger

His decision last week to dissolve the government has thrown into doubt the political reconciliation process in Ivory Coast.

Opposition supporters are angry at the decision to dissolve the government [AFP]

Five years after the president’s term ended, the country has yet to hold a ballot to replace him.

Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege, reporting from Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city, said protesters are extremely angry about Gbagbo’s decision to dissolve the government.

“The opposition, who were part of the government of national unity, have said that they will not recognise any new government that is formed by Gbagbo or any new electoral commission,” she said.

“So the country is entering its sixth night without a government and without an electoral body.

“Naturally, a lot of the people who are supporting the opposition have no choice but to take to the streets in defiance of Gbagbo and that decision that he took.”

Voter eligibility

The now-defunct government was the consequence of a peace agreement signed by Gbagbo’s government and the New Forces rebels in 2007, following the end of a civil war that had split the country into a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south.

The unity government was composed of 33 ministers from all political parties and rebel factions.

At the heart of the impasse that has delayed elections for five years is the question of who can qualify to vote.

Before its brief civil war, Ivory Coast was one of Africa’s economic stars boasting a modern, cosmopolitan capital which lured tens of thousands of immigrants from poorer neighboring nations.

At least a quarter of the nation’s 20 million people have been disqualified from voting based on the electoral law’s convoluted definition for determining eligibility, stoking tension.

The opposition says most of those disqualified by the election commission were from ethnic groups in the north who were unlikely to vote for Gbagbo.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies