POLICE fired teargas to disperse a protest in the commercial capital, Abidjan, on Thursday against the exclusion of former President Laurent Gbagbo and others from the voter rolls for October’s presidential election.
Hundreds of protesters had gathered outside the national electoral commission’s headquarters to demand that Gbagbo, his ally Charles Ble Goude and former prime minister Guillaume Soro be included in the rolls, a Reuters witness said.
The electoral commission said the three were not included because of criminal convictions and that it will consider appeals against their exclusion. But their supporters say President Alassane Ouattara’s government is trying to silence political opponents before the election.
The Oct. 31 election is widely seen as the biggest test of Ivory Coast’s stability since Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to Ouattara in the 2010 election, sparking a brief civil war that killed 3,000 people.
Tensions have risen in recent weeks since Ouattara’s choice to succeed him, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died unexpectedly. The ruling party then asked Ouattara to run for a third term – a move his opponents say would violate the constitution.
Ouattara has not yet said whether he will run. He is scheduled to address the nation on Thursday evening.
Following the civil war, Gbagbo was sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity. He was acquitted last year but has not yet received a passport to return home from Europe.
An Ivorian court convicted him in 2018 of having stolen money from the central bank during the civil war and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.