Ouattara invites main opposition rival for talks to ease tensions

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President Alassane Ouattara © Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty
FILE PHOTO: Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara. (Photo credit ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara invited Henri Konan Bédié, his main opposition rival, for talks aimed at calming tensions in the West African nation following the just-concluded presidential election.

“I would like to reaffirm my availability, today like yesterday, for a sincere and constructive dialogue with the opposition, while respecting the constitutional order,” Ouattara said in a national broadcast.

He also urged opposition leaders to end their protests and all citizens to to work to strengthen peace.

Though Ouattara won the election by a landslide, Bédié and another opposition leader, former prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, said they did not recognize the election and proceeded to announce a transition government.

Critics of Ouattara argue that he is violating the law by contesting in an election again because the constitution limits presidents to two terms.

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

Elsewhere, at least nine people were killed on Monday in clashes in the country on the day the Constitutional Council confirmed Ouattara’s re-election with 94.27 percent of the vote.

Six people were killed and 41 others were injured in Daoukro, according to a local government administrator Solange Aka who spoke to AFP.

Three more people were killed in central Elibou during clashes between security forces and protesters who had barricaded a highway, local residents said.

Clashes in the country have so far killed about 35 people, according to officials. They 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.

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