Ivorians head to the polls to vote in presidential elections on Sunday with incumbent Alassane Ouattara fending off challenges from six other presidential contenders. Preliminary results are expected early in the week.
The Ivory Coast on is holding its first presidential ballot since a disputed vote five years ago, with international observers hoping to avoid a repeat of post-election violence that killed more than 3,000 people in 2010.
Polls have opened in Abidjan, the country’s largest city, at the official 7am (local and GMT) start time for the election, but delays were reported elsewhere.
“In the town of Abobo, polling stations were still not open at 8:30am because of missing voter lists,” FRANCE 24 correspondent Guillaume Guguen said from the suburb north of Abidjan.
President Alassane Ouattara, 73, has been campaigning for a second consecutive term in office, with opinion polls earlier this month suggesting he was the front-runner.
In 2010, Ouattara defeated incumbent Laurent Gbagbo who refused to concede defeat, sparking the worst fighting the country has experienced since independence.
The crisis was a bloody epilogue to a decade of upheaval, splitting West Africa's economic powerhouse between a rebel-held north and a loyalist south.
More than 6 million people are eligible to vote, but with memories of the violence sparked by the last election still fresh in many people's minds, there are concerns that turnout will be low.
Preliminary results are expected early in the week.
Opposition crying foul
A trained economist, Ouattara is seeking a solid first-round win to dodge the threat of a run-off against one of six other presidential contenders.
Ouattara has touted an economic rebound and security gains, though opponents say he has failed to reconcile the country or alleviate poverty.
His main challenger on Sunday will be former prime minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan, who is running on behalf of Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front.
Former prime minister Charles Konan Banny dropped out of the running on Friday – becoming the third candidate to do so – citing "grave irregularities" in the organisation of the vote.
Former foreign minister Amara Essy has also withdrawn, along with former national assembly president Mamadou Koulibaly, who condemned the vote as "rigged".
The government shrugged off their boycott as a bid to duck out of a competition they were tipped to lose anyway.
But Ouattara has also come under criticism from Amnesty International for the detention of opponents ahead of the vote.
Rights campaigners have also complained that little justice has been meted out to members of his camp that were involved in over the post-election violence of 2010-2011.