At least five killed in Ivory Coast election clashes: officials

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST - SEPTEMBER 28: Security forces take measures as members of opposition party in Abidjan gather to protest press that they aren't included in press for presidential election rally, in Ivory Coast , on September 28, 2015. (Photo by Cyrille BAH/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Security forces take measures as members of opposition party in Abidjan gather to protest. (Photo by Cyrille BAH/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

At least five people were killed and several others were injured in violent clashes on election day in Ivory Coast, according to officials, as opposition to President Alassane Ouattara’s controversial bid for a third term in office continued.

According to the mayor of the town of Tiebissou, which is located in the country’s centre, four people were killed and 27 others were injured by bullets and machetes. A government official, who sought anonymity, said another person was killed in the town of Niable.

“Young armed men from the surrounding villages … fired on the other young people,” Koffi said.

The streets of the commercial capital Abidjan were quiet on Sunday, as they were on election day, as several people remained indoors for fear of violence. Some had already left the city for villages in the provinces before the vote.

However, some opposition strongholds in the centre of the country witnessed some minor clashes on Saturday.

The clashes rekindled memories of the 2010 election which was won by Ouattara but resulted in the eruption of a short civil war that killed 3,000 people when his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down.

The country’s opposition candidates, Pascal Affi N’Guessan and Henri Konan Bedie, called on voters to boycott the election, a move which is expected to hand Ouattara a win, but may weaken his legitimacy during a third term.

Critics of Ouattara argue that he is violating the law by contesting in an election again because the constitution limits presidents to two terms, and is harming the country’s hard-earned economic gains.

Ouattara, on the other hand, says the passing of a new constitution in 2016 allowed him to restart his mandate.