Ruling party tops disputed ICoast local elections

The party of Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has won regional and municipal elections, the country's electoral commission said Friday after polls marked by sporadic violence and an opposition boycott.

Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) party scooped 65 of the 194 local councils up for grabs in Sunday's election in the world's top cocoa producer, the president of the independent electoral commission, Youssouf Bakayoko, said in a statement.

Ouattara's coalition partner at national level, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) led by former president Henri Konan Bedie, won 49 councils, added Bakayoko.

Independent candidates performed surprisingly well, winning 72 local councils but in reality, these often hailed from the two main parties.

The RDR also came out on top in regional elections, winning 10 of the 31 regions.

The elections were the first such polls in more than a decade and were seen as a trial run for the 2015 presidential election.

Turnout was low, however, reaching 36 percent in the municipal vote and 44 percent in the regional poll.

As results began to trickle in on Wednesday, sporadic clashes broke out between police and party supporters as well as rival party members, mainly in the economic capital Abidjan.

There were also reports of people being arrested after intimidating voters and polling stations being wrecked.

These incidents did not "alter the transparency and sincerity of the vote," Bakayoko said, adding that some "bad losers" had engaged in "regrettable behaviour."

The polls were boycotted by former president Laurent Gbagbo's party, the Ivorian Popular Front, just as it refused to take part in parliamentary polls at the end of 2011.

Ivory Coast is still recovering from years of unrest which came to a head when Gbagbo refused to admit defeat in the 2010 presidential vote.

Around 3,000 people died in the ensuing conflict and Gbagbo is now facing trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.