Two Côte d’Ivoire government supporters were killed and a ministerial convoy hit by gunfire, officials said Wednesday as tensions build on President Alassane Ouattara’s controversial re-election.
Ivory Coast is caught in a standoff after Ouattara was declared the winner on Tuesday, but rivals boycotted the vote, declaring they would form a rival “transitional government”.
Security forces have blocked access to the home of Ouattara’s main rivals Henri Konan Bedie and Pascal Affi N’Guessan after officials accused the opposition of planning a “resurrection” against the government.
The United States joined the UN on Wednesday in a call for dialogue in the West African state, where more than 40 people have been killed in clashes over Ouattara’s third term since announcing he would run again in August.
Two government supporters were killed in a clash near Equipment Minister Amede Koffi Kouakou’s home in the central city of Toumodi, a government party official said.
“Two young people from the minister’s entourage who wanted to help the minister’s brother were shot dead” on Tuesday night, Ouattara’s spokesman for the RHDP party, Mamadou Toure, said.
Toumodi was one of the areas hit by violence in the weekend election – four people were killed over the weekend when houses were burned during clashes there.
Toure also said the communications minister and government spokesman Sidi Tiemoko Toure’s convoy had come under fire in the center of the country, but there were no casualties.
The crisis has raised fears that Ivory Coast could slip into the kind of violence that killed 3,000 people a decade ago when then-president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat at Ouattara.
Police fired tear gas Tuesday to clear small groups of protesters near Bedies resident of Abidjan Cocody district, where security forces have blocked access roads surrounding his home.
Security forces also surrounded N’Guessan’s home and former minister Abdallah Mabri Toikeusse, an AFP reporter said.
“We can not enter or leave my home,” said Assoa Adou, secretary general of the Ivorian People’s Front (FPI), close to former Gbagbo, from her home.
“They do not care if we have food or medicine,” he told AFP.
Djedri N’Goran, a senior member of Bedie’s party, said five members of Bedie’s family had been arrested.
Opponents say Ouattara’s third term violates the country’s two-pronged presidential border, but the Ivorian leader claims a 2016 reform allowed him to run again by resetting the time limits back to zero.
The crisis is yet another test for a region where Guinea is trapped in its own post-election dispute, Nigeria is emerging from widespread unrest and Mali has a transitional government following a coup.
The United Nations, the African Union and the African bloc ECOWAS on Tuesday called on the Ivory Coast opposition to “respect the constitutional order” and seek dialogue, while urging all parties to show “restraint to preserve human life”.
On Tuesday, the United States called on Ivorian leaders to respect the democratic process and the rule of law.
“Complaints regarding the presidential election must be resolved in a peaceful and transparent manner within the framework of the law,” a statement from the US Embassy said.
A Western and African government is pushing the opposition to abandon its idea of a transitional government and for Ouattara to “appease rather than oppress,” a diplomatic source said.
In power for 10 years, Ouattara said earlier this year that after his second term, he planned to make room for a new generation.
But the sudden death of his chosen successor in July made him seek a third term.
The anger unleashed by his decision has revived memories of previous Ivorian feuds with roots, even before a civil war in 2002 split the country in two, the northern team of rebels and the southern of Gbagbo’s forces.
Ouattara won a long postponed election in 2010, but Gbagbo refused to accept defeat. French forces eventually intervened to help Ouattara loyalists remove the former president.