ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — This country's army rulers, seeking to win maximum support for a constitution that would underpin their transition to civilian rule, gave people extra time to vote on it and declared today a public holiday for the purpose.
The referendum, which will play a major role in deciding who could be the next president, comes at a critical juncture for Ivory Coast. Once among Africa's most stable nations, the country faces increasing military unrest and a battered economy.
The government declared a state of emergency ahead of the referendum, but Abidjan, the commercial capital, was quiet Sunday.
While turnout estimates were not available, long lines, some with well over 200 people, snaked through some Abidjan neighborhoods.
Some of the country's 4.8 million registered voters were kept waiting for their voting cards, and there were also scattered accusations of voting fraud. Police arrested four supporters of the country's main opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara, for allegedly buying "no" votes, said Menan Basil Adou, a senior municipal official in Abidjan's crowded Adjame neighborhood.
The junta acknowledged the problems in a statement broadcast on state-run radio and said voting would continue today from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the stations where voters were unable to cast ballots Sunday. Elsewhere, voting continued past the 6 p.m. deadline.