Ivory Coast grinds to a halt in polls chaos
ABIDJAN: Banks were shut and port activity was slow in Ivory Coast’s economic capital yesterday after a dispute over presidential election results prompted authorities to shut all international borders.
The country faces uncertainty after provisional results handing victory to challenger Alassane Ouattara were dismissed by the constitutional council, whose chief is close to President Laurent Gbagbo.
In a defiant mood in the Gbagbo camp, his campaign director dismissed inter national calls for the vote result to be respected and said the council was now the only body that could determine the outcome.
Traffic slowed to trickle. Shops were shuttered and the port through which much of the world’s cocoa passes was largely inactive.
“Since the curfew there have been very few ships,” Germain Gado, 31, a docker, said of the security measure imposed by Gbagbo before last Sunday’s poll, which was aimed at reuniting a country torn apart by civil war and years of political stalemate.
Cocoa futures ticked higher yesterday as the election dispute loomed.
Cocoa exporters said the closing of borders would not have a huge immediate impact on the trade as business had virtually ground to a halt.
After repeated delays due to wrangling within his organisation over the results, election commission chairman Youssouf Bakayoko announced on Thursday that Ouattara had won the November 28 run-off with 54.1 percent of the vote.
The country now faces a legal battle over the vote. Gbagbo’s camp says the results are invalid as the election commission missed by one day the deadline for their publication, and alleges mass vote-rigging in the rebel-held north.
Diplomats said the fact the electoral commission managed to publish the figure – rather than allowing it to go under wraps to the Constitutional Council for a final ruling – would make it difficult to tamper with the score.
State TV has not broadcast the results but has recycled old footage of two little known observer missions listing problems during voting in the north and the council head saying the election commission’s results were not valid.
“Another failed coup d’etat by France,” read the front-page headline of the pro-Gbagbo newspaper Notre Voie.
BBC FM radio was taken off air yesterday, joining satellite channel France24 and Radio France International FM.
Leaders of the United States, France and the United Nations have called on candidates to respect the will of the people after inter national observers had deemed the vote fair.
But Gbagbo’s campaign manager Pascal Aff N’Guessan said these countries and the UN had no right to do so.
“Everyone needs to understand that the Constitutional Council is the institution with the competence to proclaim the definitive results from this election. No one can say a candidate has won except the constitutional court,” he said. – Reuters
JUBILANT: Crowds celebrate after the supposed victory of opposition politician Alassane Ouattara.