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leader assuming his newly elected role

IVORY COAST’S OUATTARA TAKES OATH OF OFFICE

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara took the oath of office for the third time on Monday.

Representatives of 13 African countries and the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy were present at the official swearing in ceremony — but the members of the opposition were no where to be found.

“I ask all political parties to seize this new opportunity… to defuse tensions through dialogue,” the 78-year-old president said.

He had said earlier that he asked his prime minister, Hamed Bakayoko, to “resume discussions” with the opposition, which continues to contest the legitimacy of the October 31 election.

Ouattara and his supporters had argued that a 2016 revision of the constitution reset his term counter to zero.

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When Ouattara won with more than 94 percent of the vote, the opposition cried foul and announced a “transitional government”.

Several opposition leaders were arrested, with legal proceedings over “sedition” launched against them.

Pre- and post-election violence has claimed at least 85 lives since August, according to an official toll.

For many Ivorians, painful memories were stirred the aftermath of disputed elections in 2010.

A political standoff was followed by a brief civil war in which around 3,000 people died and an estimated 1.3 million people fled their homes in the former French colony, the world’s top cocoa producer.

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