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Ivory Coast president urges peace as he files candidacy for elections

Clashes broke out after Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, after initially saying he would not stand again, changed his mind following the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, his anointed successor.

FILE: President of Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara. Picture: United Nations Photo

ABIDJAN - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara called for peace after clashes that have claimed at least eight lives as he filed his candidacy on Monday for elections less than three months away.

Clashes broke out after Ouattara, after initially saying he would not stand again, changed his mind following the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, his anointed successor.

"I know I can count on all my fellow citizens to ensure that this election is peaceful and that Ivorians can make their choice in peace, without violence," Ouattara said as he left the headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) in Abidjan, flanked by most members of the government.

"We will submit to the verdict of our citizens. The citizens will remember our record, which is an exceptional record over the past nine years... I have a vision of stability, security, peace and happiness for Ivorians," he said.

The constitution limits presidents to two terms, but 78-year-old Ouattara and his supporters argue that a 2016 constitutional tweak reset the clock, allowing him to seek a third.

Six people were killed and about 100 were injured in demonstrations that erupted after Ouattara announced on 6 August that he would seek re-election following Gon Coulibaly's death in July from a heart attack.

At least two more were killed at the weekend in clashes at Divo, 200 kilometres (120 miles) from Abidjan, after Ouattara formally accepted his nomination by the ruling RHDP party.

Opposition and civil society groups say Outtara's move to stand again in the 31 October vote amounts to a "coup."

The country remains scarred by a brief civil war that erupted after 2010 elections, when then president Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede to the victor, Ouattara. Months of violence claimed around 3,000 lives.

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