Even though the US, UN and France say the opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara won the election, Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo was sworn in for a new term on Saturday. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
The nation’s electoral body said Ouattara won, but the Constitutional Council overturned this declaration in favour of Gbagbo.
But Ivory Coast, which was supposed to be reunified by the presidential run-off after a civil war in 2002, could end up with two presidents, as Ouattara is also planning to hold his own swearing-in ceremony at an Abidjan compound guarded by UN peacekeepers.
At least four people have been killed in election-related clashes this week in the country’s main city of Abidjan.
“I swear solemnly and on my honour to respect and faithfully defend the constitution,” Gbagbo said during the swearing-in ceremony in Abidjan, to loud cheers from a number of his supporters at the presidential palace.
Saying he backed Ouattara, Gbagbo prime minister Guillaume Soro resigned earlier on Saturday after warning that overturning the results threatens to derail attempts to stabilise and reunify the country after the war. (map, from bbcimg.co.uk)
On Thursday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared that Ouattara had won the 28 November run-off by 54.1% to 45.9%.
But Gbagbo and his supporters alleged that the ballot had been fraudulent and the Constitutional Council overruled the Commission.
According to chairman Paul Yao N’Dre, Gbagbo had secured just over 51% of the vote.
The Constitutional Council’s decision has been rejected by US president Barack Obama, who said : “The Independent Electoral Commission, credible and accredited observers and the United Nations have all confirmed this result and attested to its credibility.”
He then congratulated Ouattara and said the international community would “hold those who act to thwart the democratic process and the will of the electorate accountable for their actions”.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy told Gbagbo to “respect the will of the people, abstain from any action that might provoke violence” and to help establish peace.
‘Smooth political transition’
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier called on Gbagbo “to do his part for the good of the country and to co-operate in a smooth political transition”.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the current chairman of regional bloc Ecowas, said all parties should “respect and fully implement the verdict of the Ivorian people as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission”.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said it would only work with an Ivory Coast government recognised by the UN.
On Friday evening Ouattara told reporters : “I am the elected president of the Republic of Ivory Coast.
“The Constitutional Council has abused its authority, the whole world knows it, and I am sorry for my country’s image.”