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Page last updated at 04:38 GMT, Saturday, 13 February 2010

Ivory Coast President Gbagbo dissolves government

Laurent Gbagbo (file)
President Laurent Gbagbo's term in office expired five years ago

Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo has dissolved the government and electoral commission, casting doubt on when long-delayed elections will occur.

Prime Minister Guillaume Soro has been asked to form a new government.

Mr Gbagbo accused the electoral commission of fraudulently trying to add more than 400,000 people to the definitive electoral roll.

The opposition says most of them are from ethnic groups in the north, who were unlikely to support Mr Gbagbo.

In the past two weeks, presidential supporters have been trying to use the courts to remove thousands from the electoral roll, accusing them of being foreigners.

Ivory Coast, which is the world's biggest cocoa producer, is slowly recovering after being cut in half by a civil war for several years.

However, attempts to hold elections have been repeatedly postponed.

'Final actions'

In a recorded message broadcast on Friday, President Gbagbo announced that Ivory Coast's government had been dissolved.

He also said he was disbanding the election commission, saying its director Robert Beugre Mambe had been "running an illegal operation". Mr Mambe is a member of an opposition party.

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"I want a government that serves the interests of the Ivorian people and not the orders of political parties," Mr Gbagbo added.

"The mission of this new government will be, under the authority of the president and the prime minister, to complete the final actions necessary to bring Ivory Coast out of its political crisis."

The opposition says most of the people who were disqualified by the election commission were from ethnic groups in the north of the country, who were unlikely to support Mr Gbagbo in any vote.

Elections, last scheduled for 29 November 2009, have been postponed six times.

President Gbagbo was elected in October 2000 for a five year term. On Wednesday the Prime minister Soro, the leader of the ex-rebels, suspended judicial rulings on voter-enrolment because of rising tensions.

The former rebel New Forces seized northern Ivory Coast in 2002. They are now sharing power with Mr Gbagbo under a peace deal.



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