Ivory Coast Prime Minister Guillaume Soro says everything is in place for the nation’s long-delayed presidential election set for Sunday.
At a news conference Saturday in the commercial center of Abidjan, Mr. Soro said campaigning for the election ended Friday night and Saturday will be a day of reflection before Sunday’s vote.
The prime minister promised the election would be peaceful and transparent. An 8,000 man election security force made up of United Nations peacekeepers and French troops is standing by, and observers from the U.N. and the European Union will be monitoring the vote.
In the election, President Laurent Gbagbo is being challenged by a former president, Henri Konan Bedie, and a former prime minister, Alassane Ouattara.
The vote was first scheduled five years ago, but postponed repeatedly by disputes over voter eligibility and turmoil stemming from a 2002 civil war.
Ivorian military chief of staff Philippe Mangou warned earlier this week that anyone who tries to disrupt the vote and then flee the country will be thwarted.
He said the country’s borders and the airport in Abidjan will be closed.
The presidential vote will be the country’s first in a decade. The 2002 civil war split the country into a rebel-controlled north and government-run south. The two sides signed a peace deal known as the Ouagadougou Political Agreement in 2007.
As a result of the pact, former New Force rebel leader Soro joined Gbagbo’s government as Prime Minister and the two agreed to reunite the country by dismantling the zone of confidence separating North from South, integrate rebel forces into the national armed forces, and hold elections. VOA