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Ivory Coast: Fearing election violence residents flee Abidjan

Thousands leave Abidjan days before Saturday's tense presidential election.   -  
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AFP

Ivory Coast

Thousands of Abidjan residents are fleeing the economic capital fearing violence during Saturday's presidential election.

They packed their bags several days ago to head to the interior, dreading a possible repeat of the 2010 election when fighting turned the city into a battleground, killing 3,000 people.

"I am leaving Abidjan because of what happened in 2010 - I don't want to go through that again," said Véronique Yao.

She and her young son packed their suitcases and joined other passengers jostling onto buses out of Abidjan.

"Considering what's happened in the past years I'm really worried because at the moment I'm living alone and I don't really know what's going to happen, so I' d rather go back to my family, it's better," said Sandrine Dia Amoin, who also took the bus.

President Alassane Ouattara's decision to run for a third term has been rejected by the opposition, triggering sporadic clashes between rival communities.

On Saturday morning it was reported protesters blocked the main route between Abidjan and the north of the country.

"The route is still blocked. No one can pass Djebonoua to get to another town," said local farmer Richard Konan.

Groups of youths set up makeshift barricades in some neighbourhoods in and around Daoukro, a stronghold of opposition leader Henri Konan Bedie, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Electoral material had still not arrived at Daoukro polling stations.

And voting papers were also burned in Brobo, near the central town of Bouake, a local electoral official said.

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