Ivory Coast politicians on Friday launched an opposition coalition ahead of October presidential elections as crowds chanted the name of ex-strongman Laurent Gbagbo, currently awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court.
More than 1,000 people, including political heavyweights, attended the launch at an Abidjan hotel, with the coalition's charter calling for Gbagbo to be freed along with others it labelled "political prisoners."
It also called for the dissolution of the current electoral commission amid claims it is biased in favour of President Alassane Ouattara, who will be seeking re-election and is the only major candidate in the race so far ahead of the October vote.
Former prime minister Charles Konan Banny and the ex-president of the National Assembly, Mamadou Koulibaly, were among those at the first meeting of the National Coalition for Change launched on Friday.
Long-time leader Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat to Ouattara after 2010 elections sparked a bloody five-month standoff in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.
Gbagbo, held in The Hague since his transfer to the ICC's detention unit in late November 2011, will go on trial in November for his alleged role in the violence.