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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 21:56 GMT
Ivorian president declares emergency
Police clash with RDR supporters in Abidjan
Police tried to force RDR supporters from the streets
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has declared a state of emergency and a country-wide curfew ahead of parliamentary elections at the weekend.

The announcement follows a day of violent clashes between police and thousands of supporters of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, which had paralysed the commercial capital, Abidjan.

We need to have a parliament - we will have a parliament

Laurent Gbagbo
More than 20,000 people took to the streets over Mr Ouattara's exclusion from the elections on the disputed grounds that one of his parents is not Ivorian.

At least five people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and police - but a spokesman for Mr Ouattara's Rally for the Republic (RPR) party put the toll at more than 15.

Leader of RDR, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara
Ouattara: Opponents say he is a national of Burkina Faso
Speaking in a national TV broadcast, President Gbagbo said on Monday evening that the security measures would remain in place until 12 December, two days after the polls closed.

The curfew will run from 2100 until 0600.

Mr Gbagbo also insisted he would not overrule a decision by the Supreme Court confirming Mr Ouattara's exclusion from elections, despite massive pressure from inside and outside the country.

Widespread clashes

Shops, schools and banks were all closed on Monday shut and there were no buses or taxis operating in Abidjan.

Clashes were reported from early in the morning in various districts of the city.

RDR crowd
RDR supporters brought Abidjan to a standstill
Youths set up barricades, some with burning tyres, in the crowded districts of Abobo, Adjame, Treichville, Koumassi and Yopougon.

RDR supporters accused the police of using live ammunition and firing on demonstrators in a number of suburbs.

By mid-morning many areas appeared to have calmed.

Some RDR supporters had been refusing to enter the planned rally at the national stadium and had been calling for the march, banned by the authorities, to go ahead.

However when the RDR assistant secretary general Amadou Gon Coulbaly arrived supporters who had originally refused to enter the national stadium did so.

International condemnation

Mr Ouattara's exclusion from the elections has been condemned by the United Nations and by the European Union which announced it was suspending electoral aid to Ivory Coast.

An EU spokesman said there was now no possibility of a free and fair vote.

The UN says it is urgently reviewing whether to remain involved in observation of the poll.

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo
Elections: Test for Gbagbo's government
Mr Ouattara, who was also barred from the October presidential race, has rejected allegations about not being Ivorian.

Analysts say the exclusion of Mr Ouattara, the country's most prominent politician, could provoke further outbreaks of political and ethnic violence.

The presidential elections held in October led to widespread clashes between Mr Ouattara's supporters and those of his opponents, including the new Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo.

Parliamentary elections had been billed as an important test for the current government, which took power after an uprising against the military regime.

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05 Jul 00 | Africa
Why the world watches Abidjan
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