, ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Aug 6 – Ivory Coast’s government on Wednesday announced that the first round of a presidential election that is seen as crucial for the country’s stability will be held on October 25.
Incumbent Alassane Ouattara will be seeking a second term and is widely expected to remain in office.
The country’s main opposition, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, last month chose party chief Pascal Affi N’Guessan as its candidate.
“The electoral college of the republic of Ivory Coast will convene on October 25, 2015 to carry out the election of the president,” the government said in a statement.
It was already known that the election would take place in October.
The final electoral list, including over 300,000 new electors, will include around 6.2 million voters, the statement continued.
The FPI was founded by Laurent Gbagbo, Ivorian president from 2000 to 2011, who is currently awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity.
Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara after elections in 2010 sparked a bloody five-month standoff in which the UN estimates about 3,000 people died.
The vote is seen as a possibility to usher in greater stability in a country where the atrocities of 2010-2011 are very fresh in people’s minds.
An Ivory Coast military court on Tuesday sentenced the former bodyguard of Gbagbo’s wife to 20 years in prison for a murder committed during the post-electoral violence.
The selection of N’Guessan to run for the FPI comes amid a serious crisis in the party which threatens its unity.
One side backs N’Guessan as presidential candidate, but the other objects to this and wants the release of Gbagbo before agreeing to any elections.
President Ouattara has promised that if he gains a fresh mandate in October he will not seek a third term.