November 30, 2010 / 11:48 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ivorian cocoa exporters shut down ahead of poll result

* Cocoa exporters shut down ahead of expected poll results

* Arrivals choppy since first-round, but ahead of last year

* Political uncertainty, close race in top grower

(Adds quotes, details)

ABIDJAN, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Cocoa exporters in top grower Ivory Coast have shut operations due to tensions ahead of results later on Tuesday from a presidential election, three industry sources told Reuters.

Political uncertainty in the West African state since the first round of voting Oct. 31 has raised fears of violence and altered the normal flow of beans to port, but overall volumes are nonetheless running ahead of last year.

The election commission is due to start issuing the main body of results on Tuesday after a tense run-off vote between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and his challenger Alassane Ouattara. [ID:LDE6AT0SL]

Tensions are high and each camp has accused the other of intimidation in their respective strongholds during voting on Sunday. The race is expected to be tight and is likely to be contested by the loser.

“There is no point in staying open because yesterday there were no deliveries and there are none expected for this week. We will probably re-start at the beginning of next week if all is calm,” said one exporter, who asked not to be named.

Officials working for two other cocoa exporting firms also said they had shut down due to the wait for the results.

“We are worried. There is too much uncertainty over the results and we do not want to take any risks,” said one. “Everyone has shut down, which is understandable. We will wait for the results and decide if we should re-open or not.”

Exporters previously shut down due to tensions ahead of the first round of voting Oct. 31, but port arrivals have since surged as stockpiled beans were trucked in ahead of the run-off, bringing them 3 percent higher than last year. [COC/IC]

Cocoa prices CCc1 LCCc1 were up slightly in early trade on Tuesday.

The election commission has until late on Wednesday to announce the results from the election. So far, just a handful of results from Ivorians who voted abroad have been announced.

There is a heavy security presence across much of the country and Gbagbo has imposed an overnight curfew during the election process, though rebels still running the north of the country have largely ignored the decree.

Exporters also shut down operations during the wait for the results of the first round, but restarted soon after, when a run off was confirmed.

Stakes are higher this time and Gbagbo’s camp has already called for results from three Ouattara strongholds in the north to be thrown out. Ouattara has also complained about intimidation of his voters. (Reporting by Ange Aboa; writing by David Lewis; editing by Richard Valdmanis and Keiron Henderson)

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