As votes are being counted in Ivory Coast’s tense presidential election opposition candidate Kouadio Konan Bertin has called for peace.

“There have been too many deaths in this country, too much blood spilled on the soil of Félix Houphouët-Boigny,” the presidential hopeful said.

Voter turnout was low, according to several media reports, as incumbent President Alassane Ouattara’s bid for a contested third term sparked violent clashes even before the poll opened.

Official data for voter turnout has yet to be announced.

Electoral coup d’état

Two of the four candidates, Henri Konan Bédié and Pascal Affi N’Guessan, called for a boycott and urged “civil disobedience”.

“The vast majority of our compatriots have been very reluctant to participate in the operation that Alassane Ouattara attempted today,” said N’Guessan-

“His constitutional and electoral coup d’état was a failure.”

Ouattara, 78, was supposed to step aside after his second term to make way for a younger generation, but the sudden death of his chosen successor led to a change in plan.

The Ivorian leader says a constitutional court ruling approved his third term, allowing him to bypass two-term presidential limits after a 2016 legal reform.

Bedie, 86, and other opposition leaders accuse the electoral commission and the constitutional court of favouring the government, making a fair and transparent vote impossible.

The constitutional court rejected 40 other candidacies, including those of former president Gbagbo, 75, and former rebel leader turned prime minister Guillaume Soro.

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