Ivory Coast election results show tight race

Laurent Gbagbo

The presidential election in Ivory Coast is likely to go into a second round after partial results point to a tight race between the top candidates.

Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and opponent Alassane Ouattara both won around 35% of about half the votes counted so far, the election commission said.

About 4.2 million people went to the polls on Sunday.

The election is seen as a key step in helping Ivory Coast heal its deep ethnic rifts.

Henri Konan Bedie, the third main candidate, took 27% of votes, the Independent Election Commission (CEI) said.

IMF economist Alassane Ouattara – who was banned from previous races – and Mr Bedie were expected to be President Gbagbo’s strongest rivals in the race.

Mr Bedie is a former leader ousted in a coup in 1999.

All three believed they would win, raising fears of unrest as the final results come through.

The head of the country’s army called for calm on state television before the first results were released on Tuesday.

Many shops and businesses in the capital Abidjan remained shut or sent workers home early.

Ethnic discord brought the country close to splitting during a civil war in 2002. A deal signed in 2007 led to an uneasy peace.

The nation’s first presidential election in 10 years was postponed six times since 2005, when Laurent Gbagbo’s five-year mandate officially came to an end, amid rows over rebel disarmament and voter registration.

If no candidate wins a simple majority, there will be a run-off on 28 November.
Source: BBC

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