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December 05, 2010

Ivory Coast Curfew Extended as Protests Continue Over Disputed Election

Ivory Coast's overnight curfew has been extended for another week as street protests continue in a political crisis between rival presidents.  Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki is trying to resolve the dispute.

Supporters of Alassane Ouattara burned tires in Abidjan's Yopougon neighborhood, shouting that they are tired of Laurent Gbagbo.

Both Ouattara and Gbagbo say they are president of Ivory Coast-  Ouattara on the basis of electoral commission results that say he won 54 percent of the vote, Gbagbo on the basis of the constitutional council annulling nearly 10 percent of all ballots cast to give him 51 percent of the vote.

Both men took rival oaths of office and have named competing governments.  Gbagbo is backed by senior military officers who control southern regions.  Ouattara is backed by former rebels who still control most northern regions.

Gbagbo's government is moving to restore some normalcy to Ivory Coast by reopening  borders and lifting a ban on foreign news broadcasts.  But authorities also extended an overnight curfew for another week.  Civilians must stay indoors between 7 pm and 6 am.

Mbeki met with both would-be presidents Sunday and continued his mediation Monday as part of an African Union mission the alliance says is looking for a legitimate and peaceful solution.

Ouattara's claim to the presidency is backed by the United Nations, and the Economic Community of West African States, as well as France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Gbagbo says foreign support for Mr. Ouattara threatens Ivory Coast's sovereignty.

Gbagbo says there are grave cases of interference in Ivory Coast and he wishes that some of those parties would hold themselves back.  Gbagbo says Ivorians do not ask anyone to come and manage their country.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says she is ready to consider targeted sanctions against those who are obstructing the election.

The World Bank and the African Development Bank say they are reassessing development assistance because of what they call a breakdown of governance in Ivory Coast.