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Ivory Coast Vote Tally Is Delayed

October 24, 2000|From Associated Press

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Election returns were interrupted and soldiers barricaded streets Monday in Ivory Coast, where an opposition candidate was predicting victory over the military junta leader in a presidential election intended to restore civilian rule.

The country's electoral commission headquarters closed about midday to give employees a break after more than 24 hours of ballot counting, officials said. Soldiers ordered journalists to leave the premises toward the end of the afternoon but allowed them to return several hours later.

By 9 p.m., however, election officials were still waiting for their superiors, who they said had not returned. No explanation was given.

Sunday's vote will decide the future of the West African nation, which saw its reputation as a bastion of regional calm destroyed by a December coup that brought Gen. Robert Guei to power.

Early official results showed longtime opposition leader Laurent Gbagbo holding an edge over Guei.

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