- Title: IVORY COAST: Ivory Coast opposition leader lodges challenge to poll
- Date: 6th November 2010
- Summary: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (NOVEMBER 4, 2010) (REUTERS) ==NIGHT SHOTS== MUSICIANS PLAYING ON STAGE AT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ALASSANE OUATTARA CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS
- Embargoed: 21st November 2010 12:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA6RH8MJQSEF5BQ6E8TO1AM8NH
- Story Text: Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo faces a run-off election against his rival, Alassane Ouattara, after first-round results give the incumbent a narrow lead. But another opposition leader challenges his exclusion from the second round.
Ivory Coast opposition leader Henri Konan Bedie has challenged the results of an election in which he came third, failing to make the second round run-off, a spokesman said on Friday (November 5).
Ivory Coast's first election in a decade left Bedie with around 25 percent of the vote, against President Laurent Gbagbo's 38 percent and challenger Alassane Ouattara's 32 percent. Gbagbo and Ouattara now head to the second round scheduled for November 28.
Bedie alleged rigging and called for a recount shortly after the result was announced on Thursday. Ivory Coast's constitutional court has until November 10 to hear all challenges and then validate the first round results.
Many Ivorians had feared such a close race would be disputed, leading to street violence as in previous elections. But apart from a few hundred Bedie supporters blocking roads around his party headquarters in a leafy suburb of Abidjan on Thursday, there have been no mass protests on his behalf.
The long-delayed poll is meant to reunite the once prosperous country after the war of 2002-3 split it in two and left the north in the hands of rebels.
It has also led to bitter rivalry between the three main candidates, although widespread fears of street violence between their supporters have so far not come true.
On Friday (November 5) Gbagbo's party spokesman said he was confident the incumbent president would win the second round.
"We are at the top, as the first preference of the vast majority of Ivorians, so are waiting now and will see that in the second round, the same voters will show new preferences, given the choice of two candidates, and we're sure that their preference will give a majority to the candidate Laurent Gbagbo," Affi N'Guessan told reporters in Abidjan.
He said his Ivorian Popular Front Party was not contesting the outcome of the first round.
"We haven't lodged any complaints against the results but if the context changes, well, up until now I can tell you that we haven't lodged any complaints against the result of the first tour," N'Guessan said.
If the court rejects Bedie's complaint and validates the results, all eyes will turn to Bedie's potential role as king-maker.
Gbagbo and Ouattara are likely to be close in the second round, so the contest hinges on which way Bedie's supporters will vote.
All candidates have come under concerted pressure by the U.N. -- which deployed 9,500 peacekeeping soldiers and police to secure the vote -- and foreign powers to accept the results.
If the second round delivers a clear winner and any disputes can be resolved, it may entice investors back to what was once a rare economic success story in an unstable region.
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