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Ivory Coast govt accuses opposition of ‘plotting against state’

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Ivorian Opposition spokesman and candidate Pascal Affi N’Guessan (R) speaks during a press conference to call for ‘civilian transition’ in Ivory Coast on November 1, 2020 in Abidjan. – The final results of the election are expected on the night of November 1, 2020. The tense election in French-speaking West Africa’s top economy is the latest test for a region where Guinea and Tanzania are caught up in post-election disputes, Nigeria is emerging from widespread unrest and Mali suffered a coup. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

The Ivory Coast authorities on Tuesday accused the opposition of “plotting against the authority of the state” after it had vowed to set up a “transitional government” following disputed presidential elections.

“The government has asked the Abidjan public prosecutor for the authors and accomplices of these offences to be brought to justice,” Justice Minister Sansan Kambile told a press conference.

He made the announcement hours after President Alassane Ouattara, 78, was declared emphatic winner of a vote marked by pre-election violence and an opposition boycott.

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He won 94.27 percent of the ballots cast on Saturday, according to official figures.

Opposition leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan told reporters late Monday that opposition parties and groups had created a “council of national transition.”

“This council’s mission will be to… create a transitional government within the next few hours,” N’Guessan said.

The goal, he said, was to “prepare the framework for a fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election.”

Kambile said “this statement, as well as violence perpetrated as a result of the boycott, constitute acts of assault and plotting against the authority of the state and national territorial integrity.”

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Asked whether this meant opposition leaders would be arrested, Kambile replied: “All options are on the table. He (the prosecutor) will be able to quietly consider all the options at his disposal.”

At least 39 people have been killed in violence before and since the elections, often in clashes fuelled by ethnic friction.

The violence has revived traumatic memories of a crisis that gripped the West African state in 2010-2011.

Around 3,000 people were killed in post-election violence sparked by the refusal of then-president Laurent Gbagbo to concede defeat by Ouattara.

After Gbagbo was forced out in 2011, Ouattara went on to serve two more terms, and has now won his third — a victory that his opponents say is illegitimate.

Ivory Coast’s constitution limits presidential tenure to two terms.

Ouattara, who announced his bid for a third term in August, argues that a revision of the constitution in 2016 reset the term counter to zero, a view backed by the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Council.

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