Ivory Coast extends voter list deadline

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Ivory Coast’s electoral commission extended a period for contesting voter lists by 10 days to Jan. 6 as fewer than half of contested cases were processed, and said that an early March poll remained feasible.

The polls, seen as crucial to reuniting a country broken by a 2002-3 civil war, have been repeatedly delayed since 2005 and are now scheduled for the end of February or start of March.

Key reforms to the cocoa sector, which is 40o the world market, hinge on the vote. Investors are waiting to see if West Africa’s former economic hub can hold peaceful polls.

Six million voters registered, a million of them were contested.
“(The commission) notes that little more than 40 % f the claims awaited have been received and treated,” Nicolas Coulibaly, commission spokesperson, said in the statement issued last week.

Once contested cases have been processed, Ivory Coast’s courts then have eight days to produce a final voter list, but a two-week strike by clerks has created a backlog in courts.



So many poll deadlines have been missed that opposition politicians accuse President Laurent Gbagbo of deliberately slowing the process to extend his mandate, a charge he denies.