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Ivory Coast runoff looks likely

 Election officials start counting ballots in the first round of presidential elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Sunday Oct. 31, 2010. The West Africa...
 An electoral commission agent sits beside stacks of counted presidential ballots following the close of polls, at a voting bureau in the former rebel...
 Poll volunteers and party representatives tally votes at a polling station in a school, in the former rebel stronghold of Bouake, in northern Ivory C...
 Poll workers and political party representatives tally votes by the light of a battery-powered lamp, after the close of polls at a voting station on ...
 Election officials start counting ballots in the first round of presidential elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Sunday Oct. 31, 2010. The West Africa...
 A poll worker marks votes for former president Henri Konan Bedie on a school blackboard during vote counting at a polling station in the former rebel...
 European Union Chief Elections Observer Christian Perda, center, from Romania, addresses a news conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Tuesday Nov. 2, 2...
 Owner of an open-air bar and restaurant Zakarya Gueme takes notes as partial election results are announced on state television, in central Bouake, t...

Ivory Coast Election

Election officials start counting ballots in the first round of presidential elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Sunday Oct. 31, 2010. The West Africa...

Ivory Coast Election

An electoral commission agent sits beside stacks of counted presidential ballots following the close of polls, at a voting bureau in the former rebel...

Ivory Coast Election

Poll volunteers and party representatives tally votes at a polling station in a school, in the former rebel stronghold of Bouake, in northern Ivory C...

Ivory Coast Election

Poll workers and political party representatives tally votes by the light of a battery-powered lamp, after the close of polls at a voting station on ...

Ivory Coast elections

Election officials start counting ballots in the first round of presidential elections in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Sunday Oct. 31, 2010. The West Africa...

Ivory Coast Election

A poll worker marks votes for former president Henri Konan Bedie on a school blackboard during vote counting at a polling station in the former rebel...

Ivory Coast Elections

European Union Chief Elections Observer Christian Perda, center, from Romania, addresses a news conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Tuesday Nov. 2, 2...

Ivory Coast Election

Owner of an open-air bar and restaurant Zakarya Gueme takes notes as partial election results are announced on state television, in central Bouake, t...

President Laurent Gbagbo appeared set to face Ivory Coast's main opposition leader in a runoff that will decide this volatile West African nation's next leader, according to the latest results released Wednesday by the electoral commission.
The figures, which account for nearly three-quarters of ballots cast in Sunday's poll, showed Gbagbo in the lead with more than 36 percent of the vote, according to an Associated Press tabulation. Opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, who is wildly popular in the formerly rebel-held north, had 33 percent.
The vote was the first here since civil war split the world's biggest cocoa producer in two, leaving rebels in control of the north. The country officially reunited in a 2007 peace deal, but tensions remain.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council urged the candidates to remain committed "to a democratic, peaceful and transparent completion of the electoral process" and accept the outcome.
It also commended the Ivorian people "for their massive and peaceful participation in this crucial vote, which represents a historic step towards the restoration of sustainable peace."
Fears over possible violence if political rivals dispute results left many stores and stalls closed Wednesday in the main city, Abidjan, where some university classrooms were only half full.
At one local Internet cafe, a few young men checked election results online, but manager Pakome Nanguy complained that people weren't coming in like they normally do.
"They're afraid," he said. "But there's no reason to be. Everything has been calm and orderly."
The electoral commission has released results from about 3.4 million votes cast so far. About 5.7 million people were registered to vote, and turnout was around 80 to 85 percent.
The commission is expected to finishing announcing results Wednesday night.
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent, the top two finishers will face off in a second round Nov. 28.
The race pits Gbagbo, 65, against 13 challengers including 68-year-old Ouattara and 76-year-old ex-president Henri Konan Bedie, who was toppled in 1999 in the nation's first coup.
Bedie was in third place Wednesday with about 27 percent.
Once a beacon of stability in a region better known for coups and war, Ivory Coast has been struggling to hold the election for years.
Gbagbo's five-year mandate officially expired in 2005, but he extended his stay in office arguing elections were impossible because armed rebels still controlled the northern half of the country.
The 2007 peace deal broke years of political stalemate, leading to the dismantlement of a U.N.-patrolled buffer zone. But the vote was delayed again repeatedly because of disputes over voter rolls.
More than a quarter of the country's 20 million people are foreign immigrants who came to work on cocoa and coffee plantations in the south. Differentiating them from native Ivorians with roots and names common in neighboring countries like Burkina Faso and Mali has taken years.


Updated : 2021-03-05 02:14 GMT+08:00