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Ultimatums Hang Over Ivory Coast


A supporter of Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo sings the national anthem during a rally in Abidjan, 29 Dec 2010

A supporter of Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo sings the national anthem during a rally in Abidjan, 29 Dec 2010

As of Saturday, dual ultimatums are hanging over Ivory Coast. Meanwhile, the divided country's rival presidents both issued their own new year's messages late Friday.

In a message he read on state media, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo said he had never seen such interference by the international community in a country's internal affairs.

But he also said the international community failed to disarm rebels who remain in control of the country's north.

Mr. Gbagbo said the only legal results of an election in Ivory Coast are issued by the constitutional council.

That body threw out votes from the rebel-held north, and overturned delayed results by the national election commission, to give Mr. Gbagbo victory.

Mr. Gbagbo said he was the winner, and the question now he said, was why outside actors and his challenger Alassane Ouattara insist otherwise.

He concluded by saying it was now the time for peace and dialogue and a return to prosperity.

Internationally-recognized President Alassane Ouattara issued his own statement saying 2010 was ending in sadness.

He said Mr. Gbagbo was refusing to recognize his election defeat. He said his opponent was shaming Africa and putting the continent's democratic progress at risk.

Earlier in the day, former rebel leader and Mr. Ouattara's prime minister Guillaume Soro said Mr. Gbagbo had until midnight Friday to leave power without concerns for his safety.

The West African regional body ECOWAS has threatened the use of force as a last resort if Mr. Gbagbo does not leave power.

Young Patriots, a sometimes violent youth movement close to Mr. Gbagbo, have also warned Mr. Ouattara had until Friday midnight to leave the Golf Hotel where he has been holed up in the main southern city Abidjan, or else they warned, they would, in their words, liberate the compound.

The election, which held a run-off between the two rivals on November 28, was aimed at reuniting the cocoa-rich country, but instead has exacerbated tensions eight years after the start of a northern rebel insurgency.

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