Abidjan (AFP) - Ivory Coast's opposition parties on Tuesday suspended participation in an electoral commission formed to prepare a presidential poll in October 2015, objecting to the re-election of its chairman.
"We can't accept that the chairman of the CEI (independent electoral commission) should again be Youssouf Bakayoko," said Daniele Boni Claverie, the spokeswoman for the Alliance of Democratic Forces (AFD), consisting of 12 parties.
The Alliance includes the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the party that backed former president Laurent Gbagbo.
He came to power in 2000 and tried to cling to office after losing an election in 2010, prompting an uprising which claimed the lives of at least 3,000 people.
Boni Claverie said that Bakayoko's role was "a symbol that must change because it brings back painful memories for the country", which was long divided in two after a rebellion against Gbagbo in 2002.
Bakayoko, a member of the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI) in the ruling coalition, has headed the poll commission since 2010.
His re-election on Saturday was marred by a partial boycott.
Some opposition politicians question the key role the CEI played under Bakayoko during the 2010 election, when it declared Alassane Ouattara the winner, an outcome that won international support but was violently contested.
The former economic powerhouse of west Africa is gradually emerging from conflict that saw rebel forces take charge in the north for almost a decade while the south was held by the army.
Plantations in the north have sustained the country's position as the world's leading cocoa producer.
President Ouattara -- a former deputy chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who was barred from standing against Gbagbo in 2000 on the alleged grounds that he was not an Ivorian national -- has already confirmed that he will run for office again next year.
Foreign partners of the onetime French colony have made clear that opposition parties, particularly the FPI, must participate in the electoral process to help bring back stability.
The CEI consists of 17 members including representatives of political parties, the Roman Catholic Church and of the president.
Gnonzie Ouattara, an official in the Alliance, said protesters wanted a consensual arrangement "and not an institution where (the opposition) plays second fiddle".