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US Election Monitor Praises ECOWAS Effort to Resolve Ivory Coast Impasse

Both challenger Alassane Ouattara (l) and President Laurent Gbagbo (r) claimed victory in Ivory Coast presidential run-off vote.
Both challenger Alassane Ouattara (l) and President Laurent Gbagbo (r) claimed victory in Ivory Coast presidential run-off vote.

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  • John Stremlau, vice president for peace programs at the Carter Center spoke with Clottey

Peter Clottey

A top official of the U.S.-based Carter Center has praised leaders in the West African region for taking what he described as a personal and public interest in resolving the political crisis in Ivory Coast following the disputed presidential run-off vote.

Several heads of states and government have reportedly arrived in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to participate in a summit Tuesday organized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The summit is aimed at resolving the crisis in Ivory Coast after both President Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara claimed victory.

“West African leaders have taken a great personal and public interest in both the election in Ivory Coast and in Guinea next door (and) that is a very positive development. I think it’s very important for the regional leaders to take the position they have already articulated that the people’s wish in Cote d’Ivoire should be respected,” said John Stremlau, vice president for peace programs at the Carter Center.

Analysts say the West African nation is on the verge of crisis after both candidates claimed victory and were installed in separate events.

Stremlau, who also monitored the elections in Ivory Coast, said the 28th November presidential run-off vote was largely free and fair.

“We appeal to the political leaders to respect the wishes of the voters as certified by the independent electoral commission. We have said in our recent statements some critical comments about the role and partisanship and lack of evidence provided by the Constitutional Council claiming that seven districts should be eliminated that were very favorable to incumbent President Gbagbo,” said Stremlau.

Meanwhile, pressure is growing on Mr. Gbagbo to step down and hand power to his opponent.

The United Nations has ordered its non-essential personnel out of the Ivory Coast due to mounting tensions in the West African country over disputed presidential election results.

Some 460 staff is being temporarily relocated to the neighboring country of Gambia.

U.N. officials said those being moved are civilians and not part of the 10,000-member international peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast.

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