U.N. signs off on Ivorian elections

Feb. 20, 2012 at 11:21 AM
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- All of the conditions for a free and fair election were met during the Ivorian vote for legislation assembly last year, a U.N. envoy said.

Ivorians voted for members of the legislative assembly in December, close to a year after rival claims to the presidency pushed the country to the brink of civil war. Turnout was low compared to 2010 presidential elections.

Bert Koenders, U.N. special representative to Ivory Coast, said "all the conditions" for a free and fair election were met in 193 of the 204 constituencies that had elections in December.

"I welcome the fact that, after last year's crisis, the Ivorian people, in their majority, were able to exercise their right to vote in calm and in a peaceful environment," he said in a statement.

Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after the international community recognized Alassane Ouattara as the winner of a presidential election meant to unite an Ivory Coast divided by civil war in 2003. Thousands of people were killed and many more were displaced in the conflict, which ended with Gbagbo's arrest in April.

Koenders said the results from the 11 other constituencies were annulled because of irregularities. The seats there were awarded in a later by-election.

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