United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon says he is deeply concerned about the threat of violence in Ivory Coast as a result of that country's continuing political stalemate.
In a statement through his spokesman Wednesday, Ban said recent developments have created a politically-charged environment where actions could have "unpredictable consequences," including the renewal of civil war.
He called on all parties to avoid any action that could trigger violence. Ban also called on incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to respect the will of the Ivorian people and step down so Alassane Ouattara, whom Ban called president-elect, can assume office.
The U.N., African Union and European Union all have recognized Ouattara as the winner of the Nov 28 runoff election.
Gbagbo and Ouattara each have declared themselves president and named governments, raising fears of a new conflict eight years after Ivory Coast's civil war.
The two leaders have the support of rival armed forces. Gbagbo is supported by senior military officers who control the south, while Ouattara has the support of former rebels in the north.
Gbagbo has ruled the country since 2000. His term officially ended in 2005, but he has remained in office through repeated election delays.