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November 30, 2010

Ivory Coast Electoral Commission Misses Presidential Deadline

by Scott Stearns

Ivory Coast's electoral commission has missed its deadline for declaring a winner in the country's presidential election. Those results have been delayed by supporters of the current president who has now extended an overnight curfew.

Minutes before the Midnight Wednesday deadline, electoral commission chief Youssouf Bakoyoko appeared on state-run television to explain the delay.

Bakoyoko asked for patience, saying the electoral commission is continuing its work but is not yet ready to announce results from Sunday's vote. When it is, he says the commission will do so on national television.

The commission tried to release results from three of Ivory Coast's 18 regions Tuesday night. But a commissioner allied with President Laurent Gbagbo tore those results from the hands of the electoral commission spokesman. The Gbagbo campaign says those returns should be annulled because of cheating by supporters of former prime minister Alassane Ouatara.

Ouattara campaign director Marcel Amon Tanoh says the president's interference with the work of the electoral commission shows that Mr. Gbagbo knows he has lost the vote.

Bakoyoko says the confrontation has not slowed the commission's work.

Bakoyko says there were regrettable acts by commission members, but everyone has returned to work in hopes of continuing their deliberation and reaching a consensus on the results.

Mr. Ouattara says those results should be released immediately.

Mr. Ouattara called on President Gbagbo to honor their pre-election agreement to abide by the results. He said delay is  worring voters who have been waiting nearly three days.

France, the European Union, and the United Nations say those results should be released without further delay. The Security Council ordered special consultations on the vote for Thursday.

President Gbagbo's spokesman says his party "will fight to the end" to ensure that the only results released are results that it believes are acurate. An overnight curfew imposed by the president was to have expired early Thursday, but Mr. Gbagbo has extended the curfew through Sunday.