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First post-Gbagbo election in Cote d'Ivoire ends peacefully

(Xinhua)

16:38, December 12, 2011

ABIDJAN, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Cote d'Ivoire's parliamentary election ended peacefully with a thin turnout Sunday, months after the country put an end to the violence following the presidential election in late 2010.

The second national poll in more than a decade in the West African nation was boycotted by the party of former strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who was arrested in April. He is awaiting trial in The Hague for war crimes.

The polling stations were scheduled to open at 7:00 a.m. (0700 GMT) and close at 5:00 p.m. (1700 GMT). The results are expected within a week.

Election officials said the election had gone smoothly with no major incidents, though the voter turnout was weak.

"The election took place peacefully in polling stations visited in the district of Abidjan and the interior (of the country)," Bert Koenders, the UN Secretary-General's special representative for Cote d'Ivoire, said in a statement.

Authorities did not release detailed turnout figures, but observers estimated that about 30 percent of eligible voters had participated.

Around 5.7 million voters have been registered out of the country's 20 million or so population to cast ballots for a 255-seat parliament.

The poll was expected to be a crucial step in bringing stability to the once-flourishing nation after last year's chaotic presidential election, which pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party asked supporters to boycott after Gbagbo was airlifted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Nov. 30 due to accusations of crimes against humanity during clashes with supporters of President Alassane Ouattara.

Ouattara, 69, took office after Gbagbo and his wife were eventually captured in his presidential palace by pro-Ouattara forces on April 11.

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