(AFP) – Aug 11, 2008
ABIDJAN (AFP) — The first shipment of material to make new voter registration cards has arrived in Ivory Coast, a French company said Monday, in an important step forward for elections that have been repeatedly delayed.
The elections are now set to be held on November 30.
"On Sunday we received a shipment of 1,500 cases of the total of 6,000 that we are expecting," Sidi Kagnassi, a spokesman for the French company Sagem, which is handling the operation, told AFP.
"The rest of the material should arrive within a week," he added.
Under the peace deal signed in March 2007 between President Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, now the country's prime minister, the parties agreed on a voter identification process to issue digital identity cards to all eligible voters among the 19 million population.
Sagem, a private security firm, was hired in November to enroll all Ivorians over the age of 18 to update the electoral lists. In the last decade when Ivory Coast was plagued by various conflicts the state had not issued any identity cards.
Before the start of the sensitive voter-identification process, Gbagbo said there were about 300,000 eligible Ivorian voters, while the former rebel movement insisted there were as many as three million.
There are estimates that the number of voters in the presidential election could be as high as eight million people compared with the 5.4 million voters on the list for 2000 used at the last elections.
"We have a margin of six weeks for the enrolment of voters once all the material is installed," Kagnassi said without wanting to fix a specific date.
However "everything will be done to make sure we can keep the November 30 date".
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