ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A coalition of political parties close to jailed former president Laurent Gbagbo said it would take part in Ivory Coast’s parliamentary election at the weekend, lifting an earlier call for a boycott.
The decision could ease street tension leading into the December 11 vote, but will raise the stakes for President Alassane Ouattara, who is trying to solidify his mandate in the war-torn West African state.
“We have sensed the government is willing to continue dialogue,” said Dehoua Seri, spokesman for the coalition, which includes Gbagbo’s former ruling FPI party. “We think we must go to the election,” he said late on Monday on state television.
Ivory Coast is recovering from an armed power struggle that killed some 3,000 people and displaced more than a million after Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in the November 2010 presidential election.
The FPI party had announced it would boycott the legislative poll in which more than 1,000 candidates will run for 255 seats in parliament, alleging the government was treating allies of the jailed former president unfairly.
Gbagbo was flown to The Hague last week to face charges of crimes against humanity, the first former head of state expected to be tried by the International Criminal Court since its inception in 2002.
Gbagbo had been popular in southern Ivory Coast, including much of the main city Abidjan. He clung to power until a fighting force of mostly northern ex-rebels, backed by the French military, captured him in April.
Ivorian security forces arrested a top pro-Gbagbo militia commander, Maho Glofiei, in western Ivory Coast on Monday in a drive to improve security for the December 11 vote, an official in the town of Guiglo told Reuters.
The official said Glofiei was being held locally.