Ivory Coast on knife edge
Tension rises as presidential election result is in doubt
ABIDJAN: The UN mission in Ivory Coast refused yesterday to approve Laurent Gbagbo’s re-election as president saying the true results showed his rival Alassane Ouattara was the victor.
Signalling the start of concerted diplomatic moves to isolate Gbagbo, UN diplomats said Secretary-General Ban Kimoon and the UN’s 15-member Security Council also backed provisional results that gave Ouattara victory with a 54.1 percent score.
Earlier, Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council – led by a staunch Gbagbo ally – upheld his complaints of vote-rigging in the rebel-held north and declared him the re-elected president.
But UN mission chief YJ Choi, who is required under peace agreements made after the country’s 2002-2003 civil war to sign off on the election result, announced that he did not recognise Gbagbo as the winner.
“The results of the second round of the presidential elections as announced on December 2 by the electoral commission do not change, confirming that candidate Alassane Ouattara won the election,” Choi told reporters.
“Even if all the complaints made by the presidential camp were taken into account … the outcome of the vote as proclaimed by the CEI (electoral commission) would not change, with Alassane Ouattara being the winner.”
The announcement raises numerous questions about how far the world body, which has a around 10 000 peacekeepers and police in the country, would be prepared to go if Gbagbo insists on remaining in power despite huge international pressure.
Allies of Ouattara warned earlier of dire consequences if the Constitutional Council, headed by Gbagbo party ally Paul Yao N’dre, overturned the provisional result – a move he announced minutes later on state television.
“We will not recognise any decisions by the constitutional council taken under such conditions,” Amadou Gon, a senior member of Ouattara’s campaign, told a media conference.
A second Ouattara aide warned of the consequences of overturning the results.
“By doing that they will cement the division of the country … If Yao N’Dre does it he will be to blame for the next war in Ivory Coast,” said the aide, Jeannot Ahoussou.
Yao N’Dre cancelled votes from four regions in the north of the world’s top cocoa grower, giving Gbagbo 51 percent of the total vote.
The announcement propelled cocoa futures higher, with the March contract up more than two percent as the rising threat of unrest triggered market fears of disrupted supplies from the world’s top grower.
The AU grouping issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned” by developments in Ivory Coast.
The long-delayed election has reopened north-south divisions in the West African country, with reports of up to 16 people having been shot dead by security forces in violence since the run-off.
Rebel forces in the north had in principle agreed to disarm as part of the peace process before the vote but they remain in control of the north and many have not given up their weapons. – Reuters