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Reports: Ivory Coast Ballots Up

May 13, 2000

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) _ Ivory Coast’s military ruler will allow presidential elections in September and a legislative ballot the following month, press reports said Saturday.

President Robert Guei told diplomats in the commercial capital, Abidjan, on Friday that presidential elections were scheduled for Sept. 17 and a subsequent round of voting would be held on Oct. 8 if there is no outright winner in the first round, state television reported.

The country’s legislative ballot will be held on Oct. 29.

A constitutional referendum will be held on July 23 to decide on changes to Ivory Coast’s basic law.

Guei did not say if he would run for president, as some observers have speculated he would. However, in a state radio address, he warned ``troublemaker″ politicians not to foment violence or civil war, saying he would respond against ``force with force.″

Guei, a longtime military officer, declared himself president after troops took power in a Christmas Eve coup, toppling President Henri Konan Bedie’s government. It was Ivory Coast’s first coup.

Although the takeover was initially very popular with Ivorians who had grown tired of corruption and ethnic favoritism under Bedie, that enthusiasm has since died down.

Soldiers have been accused of harassing civilians and summarily killing suspected criminals. Guei himself has suggested he may not allow some popular opposition leaders to run for the presidency because they do not conform to constitutional requirements.

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