afrol News, 3 December - One day after the electoral commission declared opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the winner of the Côte d'Ivoire presidential elections, the Constitutional Council proclaims incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo as winner.
The Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) yesterday, after much delay and a two-day blockade by President Gbagbo's followers, finally published the results of Sunday's run-off elections in Côte d'Ivoire. Opposition leader Ouattara was declared the winner, receiving 54.1 percent of the votes.
It however soon became clear that President Gbagbo would not accept the defeat. The incumbent claimed widespread fraud and intimidation in the north of the country, Mr Ouattara's stronghold. During the day, the country's borders were closed.
This afternoon, in what the opposition calls a "coup", the Ivorian Constitutional Council declared the CEI's provisional results invalid. Rather, the body said, President Gbagbo had achieved 51 percent of the votes.
The Council, established in 1994, has a regulatory function during referenda and elections. It chief executive, Paul Yao N'dré, was named by President Laurent Gbagbo himself. The same Mr N'dré today on government-controlled television declared Mr Gbagbo as the "re-elected President" of Côte d'Ivoire.
Opposition leader Ouattara does not accept the surprise declaration of the body, and today presented himself as "Presi
President Laurent Gbagbo meeting the press during the 2010 presidential election campaign
dent of Côte d'Ivoire" in a thank-you speech to his voters.
Opposition sources rather speak of "a coup" by Mr Gbagbo and his allies at the Constitutional Council. It was questioned how the Council could have assessed the entire count in such a short time and reached a figure of "51 percent" of the votes for the incumbent.
There were also demands from the Ouattara camp for the UN to interfere and to prevent the "coup". The UN currently has over 9,000 peacekeepers stationed in Côte d'Ivoire.
Also Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, leader of the former rebel Forces Nouvelles still controlling the northern half of the country, insisted on a UN intervention and offered the world body the last word in the conflict between the CEI and the Council.
Statements by Mr Soro and aides of Mr Ouattara indicate there may be a growing risk of a renewed north-south civil war in Côte d'Ivoire if the "coup" by Mr Gbagbo is carried out.
President Gbagbo's government meanwhile has taken several steps to secure his grip on power. All borders have been closed, the country's airspace is sealed off and foreign broadcast media, including RFI and BBC, have been taken off the air.
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