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Ivory Coast votes for president after unrest

Ivorians went to the polls on Saturday, despite attempts by some opposition supporters to disrupt the vote.

Two rival candidates of President Alassane Ouattara called for a boycott, over his bid for a third term.

Streets were largely quiet in the commercial capital Abidjan, in contrast to weeks of clashes that killed 30 people in the run up to the election. There were pockets of unrest though – opposition supporters trying to stop voters entering polling stations. Several were ransacked.

Ouattara called for an end to, quote, ‘criminal acts’ and civil disobedience when he cast his vote in an upmarket neighbourhood of Abidjan. His two main rivals, former president Henri Konan Bedie and former prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, have called for an election boycott. Ouattara’s critics say he’s breaking the law by running again because the constitution restricts presidents to two terms and that he’s jeopardizing Ivory Coast’s hard-earned gains. It’s one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

To back up his third-term bid, Ouattara points to a new constitution approved in 2016, and says he’s only running because his handpicked successor died unexpectedly in July. His victory is the most likely result, but it won’t necessarily be peaceful.

West African democracy has teetered in recent months with a military coup in Mali in August and Guinea President Alpha Conde’s successful third-term bid this month. Critics fear a Ouattara third term would deal it another blow.

Previewing Ivory Coast elections with Michele Eken:

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