Key party quits Ivorian opposition coalition

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A party in Ivory Coast’s opposition coalition quit the bloc on Monday, leaving its participation in forthcoming legislative elections unclear.

The party of Charles Ble Goude, the former right-hand man of Ivory Coast ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, said it was suspending election-related activities with other opposition parties and denounced infighting between them.

Ble Goude fled the country in the wake of a deadly political crisis that forced Gbagbo from power after losing 2010 elections.

Both were acquitted in January 2019 of charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and are conditionally free pending a possible appeal by prosecutors.

Presidential elections on October 31 last year were marred by an opposition boycott, calls for civil disobedience and violence that claimed scores of lives.

Although one party has already said it will boycott the March 6 election, the two main opposition parties and their allies had said they would take part.

Ble Goude’s Pan-African Congress for Justice and Equality of the People (COJEP) said it had hoped the election would serve as “an opportunity to reinforce the opposition’s cohesion and unity”.

However, it said in a statement that its would-be partners were instead engaged in infighting.

Ble Goude was among the most controversial members of Gbagbo’s inner circle, nicknamed the “general of the streets” for his ability to whip up support for the ex-president.

Critics and international aid groups consider him to be among those who contributed most to the post-election violence.