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Gbagbo Adviser Rejects Calls for President to Step Down

  • Peter Clottey

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, center, gestures during a photo opportunity with his newly-named cabinet, with Prime Minister N'Gbo Gilbert Marie Ake, front left, at the presidency in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Dec 7, 2010

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, center, gestures during a photo opportunity with his newly-named cabinet, with Prime Minister N'Gbo Gilbert Marie Ake, front left, at the presidency in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Dec 7, 2010

A special advisor to Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo told VOA the embattled leader will not hand over power, despite calls to do so by the international community, including leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), following the disputed presidential run-off vote.

Ambassador Yao Gnamien described the ongoing political impasse as a constitutional controversy which can “easily” be resolved through dialogue between Mr. Gbagbo and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, the declared winner of the 28th November run-off vote.

“It happened in the United States (presidential election) in the year 2000 and (they) solved the problem with their legal system. That means that you’ve got a controversial election and the Supreme Court decided who was the winner,” said Ambassador Gnamien.

“In our case, we can say our election was a controversy and the Constitutional Court decided that the winner is President Laurent Gbagbo. Like in any democracy, the final result is given by the court. This is what happened in our country.”

ECOWAS issued a statement following a meeting of seven regional heads of state in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Tuesday calling on Mr. Gbagbo to step down “immediately” and hand over power to Mr. Ouattara.

Several international observers, including the United Nations and the U.S. - based Carter Center, declared the run-off vote as free and fair.

But, Ambassador Gnamien said the country’s Constitutional Court has the mandate to declare the winner, despite the electoral body’s pronouncement to the contrary.

“Out of the 16 heads of state who are members of the ECOWAS, only four were present. I think that it is a signal that means that those who didn’t attend don’t think that the decision was a good decision,” said Ambassador Gnamien.

The head of ECOWAS, Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck, said the group is not interested in a negotiated unity government saying such arrangements in other countries like Kenya or Zimbabwe did not work.

Meanwhile, the top U.N. envoy in Ivory Coast says there is no doubt that Mr. Ouattara won last month's presidential election.

Speaking at a news conference in Abidjan Wednesday, Choi Young-jin said the Ivorian people chose Mr. Ouattara as their president by an "irrefutable margin."

The comments intensify the international pressure on Mr. Gbagbo to step down and hand over power to his opponent.

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