Ivory Coast elections: Voters go to the polls amid opposition boycott

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Polls are to be opened in the controversial presidential elections in Ivory Coast.

At least 14 people have been killed since the riot broke out in August after President Alassane Ouattara announced he would be running again following the sudden death of his preferred successor.

The main opposition candidates, Pascal Affi N’Guessan and Henri Konan Bédié, say it is illegal for Mr Ouattara to run for a third term.

They are boycotting the vote and calling for civil disobedience.

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What is so controversial?

According to the Constitution, Ivory Coast has a two-term term. Mr Ouattara – who was elected twice – initially said he would resign.

In July, the ruling party’s former presidential candidate, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack.

Mr Ouattara then announced that he would run for president.

Its proponents argued that a constitutional amendment in 2016 put the clock back and that his first term didn’t count.

His opponents do not share this view and instead argue that it is illegal for Mr Ouattara to run for a third term.

What is the background for the tension?

There has been a decade-long argument between some of the country’s leading political figures.

In 2010, then-President Laurent Gbagbo refused to allow Mr Ouattara after that year’s election, sparking a bitter civil war.

More than 3,000 people were killed in the five months of violence.

Mr Gbagbo also stood up for this year’s election, but the electoral commission blocked him because he was convicted in the Ivorian courts.

He was one of nearly 40 potential candidates who were rejected by the commission.

Who are the four presidential candidates?

  • Alassane Ouattara, 78, economist. Became president in 2011 and served his second term after years of opposition. Party: Houphouëtist Rally for Democracy and Peace (RHDP)
  • Henri Konan Bédié, 86, career politician. Served as president between 1993 and 1999 and was deposed in a coup. Party: Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PCDI)
  • Pascal Affi N’Guessan, 67, career politician. Served as Prime Minister under then President Laurent Gbagbo between 2000 and 2003. Party: Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) faction
  • Kouadio Konan Bertin, 51, career politician known as KKB, was once a youth leader in the former ruling Ivory Coast Democratic Party, is now a member of parliament. Independent candidate

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