Candidates in Ivory Coast’s long-delayed presidential election, scheduled for October 31, will officially begin campaigning Friday.
The U.N. envoy to the African nation, Y.J. Choi, appealed for peace ahead of the vote and expressed confidence the Ivorian people will not tolerate any act of violence disrupting the electoral process.
The upcoming election is intended to reunite Ivory Coast after a 2002 civil war that divided the country between a rebel-controlled north and government-run south. The two sides set up a unity government following a 2007 peace deal.
The U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast has added hundreds of soldiers to the existing force of more than 8,600 troops to help maintain order.
The election has been delayed seven times in five years, mainly because of disputes about voter eligibility.
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo is running for another term in office.
His first term officially ended in 2005, but he has remained in power through the election delays.
If there is no outright winner in the election, a run-off vote is scheduled for November 28. VOA