Gbagbo party urges 'frank talks' on 2012 I.Coast polls
ABIDJAN — The party of ousted Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo on Saturday called for "frank talks" with the country's new leaders to make elections due next year "democratic and credible".
"Our country is insidiously suffering from an autocratic regime", set up after a deadly post-election crisis, and "has never been closer to the abyss", the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) said in a New Year's message signed by its spokesman Laurent Akoun.
With an eye on national reconciliation after the months-long power struggle between Gbagbo and new President Alassane Ouattara, the party said the December 11 legislative election which it boycotted should be annulled.
Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) won a parliamentary majority in the election, garnering 127 of the 254 seats up for grabs, with its main ally, the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI), getting 77.
The FPI called on the country's new rulers to "immediately open frank talks ... devoid of arrogance" ahead of "democratic and above all credible" new legislative and local elections.
Ouattara's government has rejected the idea of new polls but insists it continues to be open for talks with Gbagbo's followers.
Gbagbo's FPI had boycotted the country's first legislative poll since 2000, citing security concerns and the detention of the former president, whose release it says is a prerequisite for "reconciliation".
The first former head of state to be surrendered to the International Criminal Court, Gbagbo, 66, has been imprisoned in The Hague since he was transferred from Ivory Coast on November 30.
He faces charges for his involvement in crimes committed during five months of post-presidential election violence after the restive west African country's disputed November 2010 polls.
Gbagbo's refusal to hand over the reins to his long-time opponent Ouattara plunged the world's top cocoa-grower into a deadly crisis which the United Nations said claimed around 3,000 lives.
PDCI leader Henri Konan Bedie, a former president, meanwhile said his party "will, naturally, continue to back President Alassane Ouattara in his persistent search for peace".
And the head of the UN mission in Ivory Coast Bert Koenders welcomed the latest developments in the west African country, which he said had "returned to the path of democracy, reconciliation and peace".
"However the next two years will be critical," he said in his New Year's message, citing major challenges in the fields of "security, the protection of civilians, national reconciliation and development".
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