FILE PHOTO: Police officers stand in front of supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo outside the independent electoral Commission in Abidjan, Ivory Coast August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

M’BATTO, Ivory Coast (Reuters) – Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s government has reached out to his main opponents and religious leaders to intervene and ease tensions following his decision to bid for a third term in next month’s election.

Ouattara made his appeal to religious leaders during a tour of the east of the country on Friday. A source in Ouattara’s office told Reuters that informal discussions have been held with political leaders.

The world’s top cocoa-producing nation has seen a spate of violent protests, with a least 10 killed and over a hundred wounded in clashes between protesters and police since Ouattara announced his bid in August.

The election is seen as the greatest test yet for stability since a brief civil war killed about 3,000 people following a disputed election in 2010 won by Ouattara.

Ouattara plans to run in the Oct. 31 election after the sudden death of his handpicked successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly in July.

His opponents say the constitution forbids him because he has already had two terms. The Ivory Coast Constitutional Council is set to rule on his eligibility, and those of other candidates next week.

Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko is expected to meet youth leaders of the main opposition parties next week to restart discussions, and end street violence before the election, a government statement said on Friday.

Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Bate Felix; editing by Grant McCool

source: reuters.com

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