Ouattara coalition leads in Ivorian poll count



Ouattara coalition leads in Ivorian poll count Abidjan: Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's ruling coalition led in partial results from Sunday's legislative election, according to a small sample of preliminary results released on Monday.

Ouattara's ruling coalition appears set for a landslide win based on voting patterns during the first round of last year's presidential polls.

A sweeping win in the West African state's first parliamentary poll in a decade would strengthen Ouattara's hand governing a country fresh from a power-struggle that killed more than 3,000 people.

Ouattara's ruling RDR and allied PDCI parties won 13 of the 17 seats announced by late Monday, according to the election commission, with independent candidates winning the other four. The National Assembly has 255 seats.

The poll passed peacefully, but the main opposition party called for a boycott. Turnout figures were not available, but appeared low, observers said.

"We think that tomorrow we'll have a lot more results. And if we haven't finished by then it is certain that by Wednesday latest all of the results will be known along with turnout," an election commission official said, asking not to be named.

Ouattara won a November 2010 presidential election but was only able to take power in April, after fighters supporting him invaded the economic capital Abidjan and arrested former leader Laurent Gbagbo who had refused to step down.

Gbagbo was spirited to The Hague last month to face war crimes charges for his role in the fighting.

Gbagbo's spokesman Justin Kone Katinan, in exile in Ghana, said evident low turnout in the December 11 legislative poll showed Ouattara did not have support of the Ivorian people and warned of possible fresh unrest if Gbagbo is not given a voice.

"When people feel unable to express themselves at the polls, they tend to go into the streets," Katinan told Reuters by telephone. "We don't want war to return to Ivory Coast. We have to acknowledge the warning that the people have given."

The U.S. embassy in Ivory Coast said in a statement on Monday that the election marks the end of the post-election crisis in world's top cocoa producing nation.

"We call on all political parties, even members of those parties who chose not to participate in these elections, to respect and support the new National Assembly," it said.

Despite some incidents, election officials and observers said voting proceeded normally.

More than 5 million people were eligible to vote for parliament in an election seen as a crucial step toward recovery after a decade of conflict and political turmoil.

Ouattara had urged Ivorians to vote, saying parliament had an essential role in rebuilding the country.

"Ivory Coast is at work and we need to build the institutions that will now be strong and independent institutions. I am applying myself to this task and that's why the December 11 vote is an essential vote for all Ivorians," Ouattara said after casting his ballot in Abidjan.

The poll could boost investor confidence in Ivory Coast, which wants to expand its gold mining, oil, cotton and services sectors to regain its place as the region's economic powerhouse.

Pockets of lingering tension and violence, particularly in the west, had raised fears of trouble during the polls, which were policed by local and about 7,000 United Nations security personnel.

PTI