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Supporters of Ivory Coast President Delay Release of Election Results


Ivory Cost President Laurent Gbagbo, shows a peace sign at a rally in Abidjan, 26 Nov 2010

Ivory Cost President Laurent Gbagbo, shows a peace sign at a rally in Abidjan, 26 Nov 2010

Supporters of Ivory Coast's president are delaying the release of results from Sunday's presidential election. Both candidates say there was electoral fraud.

Electoral commission spokesman Bamba Yacouba gathered reporters late Tuesday to announce results from three of Ivory Coast's 18 regions. But a member of President Laurent Gbagbo's party tore the papers from Yacouba's hands, shouting that the results had not been approved.

Yacouba said the results had been approved by the electoral commission. Security forces then ordered reporters to leave commission headquarters. It was the third time the electoral commission announced it is prepared to release results and then has done nothing.

Former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara's political coalition says President Gbagbo's supporters are trying to steal the election. Spokesman Albert Toikeusse says resistance by Gbagbo's allies shows that the president is trying to "confiscate power" and drive the country into "chaos."

The vote is meant to reunite the country after a brief civil war divided north from south. President Gbagbo's term expired five years ago, but he has remained in power throughout the years of delay in preparation for the vote.

President Gbagbo's party says it is Ouattara supporters who are interfering with democracy. Spokesman Pascal Nguessan says the electoral commission should cancel votes from three zones where he says Ouattara supporters disrespected the rules of transparency. Nguessan says the standoff leaves Ivory Coast in a difficult, grave and unacceptable situation.

Observers from the U.S.-based Carter Center say there were serious electoral crimes, including the destruction of voting materials and the theft of ballot boxes as well as voter intimidation. But observers say is not clear whether the irregularities will affect the credibility of the vote. Sabina Vigani directs the Carter Center's field office in Ivory Coast.

Vigani says that since the start of the campaign, both candidates have accused each other of fraud. She says that a formal review of those complaints by the electoral commission and the publishing of results in a timely manner would help prevent the spread of rumors

European Union chief observer Christian Preda says violent speeches fueled tensions that were aggravated by President Gbagbo imposing a curfew ahead of the election.

Preda says the curfew created an environment of intimidation. Preda says it is now up to Gbagbo and Ouattara to accept the will of the voters and demonstrate that they can bring the electoral process to a successful conclusion.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is calling on both candidates to refrain from inflammatory remarks that could trigger violence ahead of the final results. The chairman of the Economic Community of West African States is urging both men to tone down their rhetoric and maintain peace at what he called this critical stage.

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