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Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:29 UK

Ivory Coast polls 'by December'

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan on 1 April 2009
President Laurent Gbagbo's mandate ran out in 2005

Ivory Coast's ambassador to the United Nations has said his country's much-postponed presidential election will take place by the end of this year.

Ilahiri Djedje told the UN Security Council the vote, due since President Laurent Gbagbo's mandate ran out in 2005, would be held by 6 December.

Efforts have been continuing to reunify the country after a civil war that left half of it in rebel hands.

The announcement appeared to take opposition politicians by surprise.

"The peace process in Ivory Coast is not stalling, the political decision has been made," said Mr Djedje at the UN in New York.

The Independent Electoral Commission had set the ballot between 11 October and 6 December, he said.

'Strange'

He added that President Gbagbo would announce the exact date in the coming days.

Ally Coulibaly, spokesman for an opposition party, the Rally of Republicans, told AFP news agency it was "strange" the announcement should be made in New York, rather than through the official channel of the Ivorian electoral commission.

The former French colony, the world's top cocoa grower, was torn apart in 2002 when rebels went on the offensive and took control of the mainly Muslim north of the country.

A peace deal in March 2007 reunited the West African country and the rebels joined a power-sharing government.



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