Africa

Ivory Coast deploys troops ahead of presidential poll

Soldiers wait before being deployed to secure the presidential election process at the army headquarters in Abidjan November 22, 2010
Image caption There are fears the run-off could trigger violence

Ivory Coast's army has begun deploying soldiers to boost security ahead of Sunday's run-off election.

The polls is intended to reunite the country which split in two following a northern rebellion in 2002.

Two thousand more soldiers will be sent across Ivory Coast - and former rebels are matching the number.

There were reports of clashes between rival supporters of the two candidates on Monday, with fights breaking out in the main city of Abidjan.

Some 8,500 UN peacekeepers have also been deployed across the country, the world's biggest cocoa producer.

The two candidates in the run-off are the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara.

There are fears that a run-off could trigger violence in the West African country where the elections have been cancelled six times in the past five years.

"To all who are lurking in the shadows plotting against the peace, the armed forces of Ivory Coast would like to remind you that they will be merciless with anyone caught in the act of disruption, physical threat or public disturbance," Reuters news agency quotes army chief Gen Phillippe Mangou as saying.

Northern rebels took up arms in 2002, dividing the country for five years, until a power-sharing deal was signed in 2007.

The ex-rebel New Forces leader Guillaume Soro became prime minister - aged 38 - but he is too young to stand in elections.

Since the death of the country's founding President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, in 1993 the country has struggled to choose a legitimate new leader.

That led to tensions between north and south that in 2002 erupted in civil war.

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