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Friday, 28 July, 2000, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Anti-France demos in Abidjan
General Guei putting his vote in the ballot box
General Guei: Will he stand in November's elections?
Hundreds of protestors have taken to the streets of the main city of Ivory Coast, Abidjan, for a second successive day.

They accuse the former colonial power, France, of interfering in the country's internal affairs, after French Co-operation Minister Charles Josselin said that nobody should be excluded from presidential elections due in September.


We don't want the French to impose Alassane Ouattara on us

Female protestor
Some students wearing red headbands shouted anti-French slogans, others began a sit-in outside the French embassy.

Correspondents say many people believe that the country's new constitution, approved in a referendum this week, may be interpreted in such a way as to prevent former prime minister, Alassane Ouattara, from standing.

Mr Josselin's comments are being interpreted in some quarters as support for Mr Ouattara.

"France traitor! France traitor!" some protestors chanted

France has since said Ivory Coast must organise elections that are above reproach.

In a statement, the French Foreign Ministry also dismissed the controversy aroused by Mr Josselin's statement as groundless.

Travel ban

Mr Ouattara, has meanwhile been prevented from leaving for France despite the lifting of travel restrictions on leaders of political parties.

Alassane Ouattara
Alassane Ouattara: Prevented from travelling to France
No reason had been given by the military government.

Many Ivorians suspect that the country's military leader, General Robert Guei, is planning to run for president.

On Thursday evening, the state television news bulletin was devoted to angry reactions over Mr Josselin's comments.

Member of the public and political leaders said France had no right to question the new constitution. Only a spokesman from Mr Ouattara's party welcomed the comments.

Ethnicity row

A controversial clause in the new constitution says only a person with two Ivorian parents can stand.

Mr Ouattara's opponents say he is from neighbouring Burkina Faso.

He says he is Ivorian. and the row has exposed ethnic tensions in what used to be one of West Africa's most stable countries.

Ivory Coast has a population of about 19 million, but about 40% are immigrants - mostly plantation workers from neighbouring states - who cannot vote.

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See also:

25 Jul 00 | Africa
Ivory Coast votes 'yes'
05 Jul 00 | Africa
Why the world watches Abidjan
25 Dec 99 | Africa
Ivory Coast's new 'Le Boss'
24 Dec 99 | Media reports
Coup leader pledges democracy
08 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Ivory Coast's unexpected coup
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