Clashes over Ivory Coast vote as neighbouring states urge talks

More clashes broke out over Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s re-election as West African nations and France called for dialogue to end tensions over his contested third term.

Ouattara secured the October 31 election by more than 94 percent but Ivory Coast is mired in a dispute after opposition leaders rejected the vote, accusing him of breaching the two-term limit for the presidency.

Tensions have revived trauma over disputed elections in 2010 that unleashed a brief civil war in the West African country, claiming about 3,000 lives.

At least three people were killed in the central-eastern town of M’Batto between Monday and Tuesday when violence erupted between rival ethnic communities over Ouattara’s third term, police and residents said.

“The situation is calm now and reinforcements are patrolling the area,” a police spokesman said, confirming the total of three killed and 26 wounded.

Another nine people died in violence in two other towns on Monday as the country’s top court validated Ouattara’s election victory.

More than 8,000 Ivorians have fled to neighbouring countries fearing election-linked violence, the United Nations(UN) refugee agency said on Tuesday, adding more than 60 percent of whom are children.

West African bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) offered “warm congratulations” to Ouattara but the 15-member group urged him to bring Ivorians together after the unrest that has killed about 50 people since August.

Ouattara, a former International Monetary Fund economist first elected in 2010, has urged chief rival Henri Konan Bédié to drop the protests and hold talks to defuse the crisis.

“I will be the president for all Ivorians,” he said in a national broadcast on Monday.

There has been no official response from the main opposition party Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) or its chief Bédié, an 86-year-old former president.

Bede’s Abidjan home is still blockaded by security forces. Two other opposition chiefs have been arrested for suspected insurrection after rejecting the ballot and announcing a rival government.

But one opposition representative maintained a hard line.

“We do not recognise the election. We all know he [Ouattara] violated the constitution,” said N’Goran Djiedri, leader of one faction of the PDCI.

“Yes to dialogue but the rule of law must be respected.” -Aljazeera

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