EIGHTY-five people have been killed in violence linked to Ivory Coast’s disputed October 31 election, the government said before a meeting between President Alassane Ouattara and a key opposition leader aimed at calming tensions.
The new death toll doubles a previous estimate of those killed in clashes between rival political supporters before and after the vote, which handed Ouattara a third term that his opponents say is illegal.
Government spokesman Sidi Toure blamed the bloodshed on the opposition, which called on its supporters to boycott the election and launched civil disobedience campaigns in recent weeks.
“These protests were designed to bring the country to a complete standstill,” Toure told journalists.
He said the 85 deaths included 34 before the election, 20 on election day and 31 since then.
While the violence has not been as widespread as some feared, many Ivorians worry about a repeat of the civil war that followed the 2010 election. About 3,000 people died in the war, which was fought largely along ethnic lines.
Ouattara was due to meet former president and opposition candidate Henri Konan Bedie later on Wednesday to discuss how to resolve the stand-off, according to Toure and Bedie’s spokesmen.
Bedie’s party and political allies said on Wednesday that progress would only be possible if the authorities met certain demands, including dropping criminal charges against other opposition leaders for forming a rival government. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.