Pascal Affi Nguessan called for a campaign of “civil disobedience”

The house of a former Ivorian prime minister was set on fire in clashes less than two weeks before a hotly contested election.

It is not known who was behind the attack on Pascal Affi Nguessan’s residence in his stronghold of Bongouanou.

One of the city’s schools was also destroyed, a teacher told the BBC.

Mr. Nguessan and former President Henri Konan Bédié announced this week that they would boycott the October 31 elections.

President Alassane Ouattara, vying for a third term, has rejected their requests to postpone the vote and hold talks.

He initially said he would step down, but after his favorite successor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack in July, he reversed his position.

There are fears the election could rekindle conflict in the country, which is slowly recovering from a civil war sparked by a dispute over the 2010 election won by Mr. Ouattara.

Friday’s clashes between rival groups of supporters in Bongouanou, about 200 km north of the country’s main city, Abidjan, came a day after the start of the official campaign.

At least two people were killed, according to witnesses quoted by the AFP news agency.

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Mr. Nguessan told AFP: “People have been transported from Abidjan. They have targeted the property of opposition leaders.”

The teacher said, “I saw people with machetes, knives attacking other people.”

“My school was set on fire. They burned everything down there, all my personal belongings disappeared in the fire.”

He spoke of other attacks on buildings and accused the police of not doing enough to stop them.

Contacted by the BBC, police declined to comment.

The mayor of Bongouanou, Amalaman Gilbert, told the BBC on Sunday that mediators were trying to ease tensions.


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