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Security forces in Ivory Coast avert planned opposition protests

Ivory Coast

Security forces in Abidjan ,Cote D’Ivoire on Thursday averted a planned demonstration by the coalition of opposition parties.

According to one of its spokespersons , the opposition platform ‘‘Together for Democracy and Sovereignty’‘ (EDS) called for a protest against the Independent Electoral Commission who it accuses of favoring the government.

The protest was also against the holding of senatorial elections on Saturday.

EDS is a coalition of political parties, civil society groups and the Ivorian Popular Front , the party of former President Laurent Gbagbo.

Reports say around 7:30 GMT , the police pursued dozens of demonstrators who were heading towards the starting point of the demonstration, the monument of the Martyrs in Adjamé, a popular district of Abidjan, and dispersed them with tear gas.

For three hours, police and demonstrators played cat and mouse in the neighborhood, before leaders of the planned protest gave in.

According to AFP, at least a dozen people were arrested, including a spokesman for EDS, Jean-Gervais Tcheide, while granting an interview to reporters.

EDS President Georges Armand Ouegnin lamented what he calls the ‘‘serious violation of freedom of expression”.

“In a democratic country we have the right to demonstrate, to express our discontent by a peaceful and democratic march,” he told AFP via the phone.

He said the protest was banned on Wednesday evening at 18:00 hours GMT by the authorities.

Neither the police nor the Ivorian government could be reached immediately for comment.

EDS on Sunday gathered between 1,000 and 2,000 people at a meeting, which was interrupted by the police.

The Ivorian opposition is asking the government to negotiate to change the composition of the electoral commission, which has eight members of the government as against four of the opposition, before the next elections.

Senate elections are scheduled for March 24, followed by municipal and regional elections later this year, at a date yet to be determined. But the focus is on the 2020 presidential election.


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