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Ivory Coast to Hold Presidential Election on Oct. 31

Ivory Coast will hold a presidential election on Oct. 31, the special assistant to Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said, the latest date mentioned after five years of polling delays in the world’s biggest cocoa producer.

Alain Logbognon said Soro made the announcement after a meeting of the Council of Ministers in the capital, Yamoussoukro, today.

Ivory Coast is divided into a government-held south and rebel-controlled north following a civil conflict in 2002. The election, due in 2005 after the mandate of President Laurent Gbagbo expired, has been repeatedly delayed amid difficulties in drawing up a voter’s list and attempts to integrate the rebel New Forces into the national army.

A 2007 peace deal saw Soro, the rebel group’s leader, become prime minister.

“If they really want to hold the elections, it could happen but there are many issues which haven’t been resolved,” Samir Gadio, emerging-markets strategist with Standard Bank Plc, said by phone today from London. He cited problems including voter- registration difficulties and questions over whether the northern rebels should be disarmed before the poll.

Investors may begin to “feel there is an end in sight, which could potentially encourage buying the country’s sovereign-issued bond in the short term,” Gadio said.

Ivory Coast invited holders of $2.3 billion in defaulted Brady bonds to exchange them for a new dollar-denominated debt maturing in December 2032, the government said on March 15.

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