December 16, 2011 / 2:33 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ouattara coalition sweeps Ivorian polls

* Coalition takes 80 percent of seats

* Turnout 36 percent despite opposition boycott

* Win strengthens Ouattara mandate in war-scarred state (Adds think tank, analyst, opposition comments)

By Loucoumane Coulibaly

ABIDJAN, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara’s ruling coalition won four fifths of seats in parliament, provisional election results showed on Friday, boosting his hand in governing the war-scarred West African state.

His RDR party took 127 of the National Assembly’s 255 seats while his allied PDCI party took 77 seats, according to results from the Dec. 11 poll announced by election commission chief Youssouf Bakayoko.

Bakayoko said turnout was 36 percent, slightly higher than in Ivory Coast’s last parliamentary poll in 2000, despite a boycott by the main opposition FPI party allied to former leader Laurent Gbagbo, now facing war crimes charges at The Hague.

Ouattara won a presidential election in November 2010 but was only able to take power in April after fighters supporting him invaded the economic capital Abidjan and arrested Gbagbo, who had refused to step down.

Some 3,000 people were killed in the conflict and more than 1 million displaced.

Ouattara has said his priorities will be to reconcile the divided nation where simmering tensions between the mercantile, Muslim people of the north and the agrarian, Christian south still fester, and rebuild the economy.

Sylvain Miaka Ouretto, interim party president of Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), said he hoped the low turnout, due to their boycott call, would spur Ouattara to extend a hand to Gbagbo’s supporters.

“We have always been for dialogue and reconciliation. We think we are all brothers and we must build this country together,” Ouretto said, but added that there was a precondition for FPI to continue reconciliation talks with the government.

“It is a moral issue that we have set as a precondition. If our comrades are released, and those in exile can come home and if our bank accounts are unfrozen then we can discuss everything with the government.”

Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa grower but is also seeking to expand its gold mining, oil, cotton and services sectors to regain its place as the region’s economic powerhouse.

Brussels-based International Crisis Group in a statement on Friday, urged Ouattara’s camp to be modest in its victory and consider voters’ lack of enthusiasm as a sign of the scale of efforts needed to reconcile Ivorians.

“Ivorian authorities should create in the months ahead conditions for normalising democratic political life, by making concessions to their opponents, especially to FPI members, to encourage their return to the political scene for the 2012 regional and local elections,” the think-tank said.

It also said Ouattara must personally oversee the overhaul of Ivory Coast’s defence sector, and avoid delegating responsibility for reforms which are essential in ensuring security and stability in the country.

BONDS

Samir Gadio, London-based emerging market analyst at Standard Bank, said Ouattara may now focus on the economy and push through structural reforms, especially in the cocoa sector.

“The Ivorian authorities will probably release a schedule of Eurobond arrears clearance at some point in 2012, a step that should support the price of the instrument in the medium-term,” Gadio said.

Ivory Coast missed a $29 million coupon payment on its $2.3 billion 2032 bond, at the end of January 2011, sending the bond into default.

The government has said it will resume regular repayments on the bond next year and will seek a formula to make good on missed coupon payments. (Additional reporting by Bate Felix; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Edited by Richard Meares)

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