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Ivory Coast Government, Opposition Trade Allegations

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Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast’s Interior Ministry and the opposition traded allegations of voter intimidation and irregularities as early results were announced by the electoral commission from yesterday’s presidential run-off election.

Former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara led in overseas ballots counted from 16 countries, with 59.97 percent, or 6,371 votes, Bamba Yacouba, a spokesman with the electoral commission, said in Abidjan today. President Laurent Gbagbo, who has ruled the world’s largest cocoa producer for a decade, got 40.03 percent, or 4,252 votes. The results don’t include Ivorians living in former colonial ruler France, where the vote was cancelled, Yacouba said, without giving a reason. More results will be announced tomorrow morning, he added.

Affi N’Guessan, a former prime minister and spokesman for Gbagbo’s party, said today they would demand votes from three regions in the north be cancelled amid allegations of fraud. In a statement read on television late yesterday, an Interior Ministry spokesman, Auguste Gnahoua Zoguehi, said the opposition blocked people from voting, stole and destroyed ballot boxes, and opened fire on civilians. Ouattara’s party countered that opposition supporters were barred from voting in the western and central cocoa-producing regions and in two suburbs of Abidjan, Fraternite Matin reported today, citing party spokesman Marcel Amon Tanoh.

Dispute Likely

“It is likely that we are heading towards a dispute over results,” said Gilles Yabi, an independent West African analyst based in an interview in Abidjan. “It does not bode well for what will happen in the coming days. I fear that the outcome will not be accepted by the losing side.”

At least six people died during clashes in the run up to the election in the West African nation that has been divided between a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south since an uprising in 2002. Ouattara gains most of his support from the north, while Gbagbo is popular in the south. Both candidates have pledged to respect results given by the electoral commission.

Cocoa for March delivery slid 0.4 percent, or 8 pounds, to 1,866 pounds ($2,902) per metric ton in London.

Young-jin Choi, the head of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in the country, told reporters today that there were “no major incidents” during the vote.

Gbagbo, who has imposed a night time curfew until Dec. 2, received 38 percent of the votes in the first round on Oct. 31, winning 10 of 13 regions in the south. Ouattara got 32 percent of the votes, winning a landslide in the north.

The European Union’s observer mission said yesterday that they were investigating reports that pro-Gbagbo youth had set up roadblocks in the southwestern region.

To contact the reporters on this story: Pauline Bax and Olivier Monnier in Abidjan via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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