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ECOWAS Urges Ivory Coast to Resolve Election Impasse

  • Peter Clottey

Poll workers finish counting votes at a polling station in the Treichville neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 28 Nov. 2010

A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) told VOA the president of the commission is holding talks with all stakeholders in Ivory Coast to resolve the ongoing impasse surrounding the results of the presidential run-off vote.

Sonny Ugoh, communications director of the West African sub-regional bloc, called on both President Laurent Gbagbo and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara to reach consensus by finding a common ground to resolve the impasse.

“This is the time for them to be unified (and) this is the time for them to build consensus around the interest of their country. This is not the time for myopia. This is not the time to be driven by narrow and selfish interests. This is the time for them to come together as a people to seek the national interest of their country and to see how they can work together to achieve that,” Ugoh said.

“The president of the (ECOWAS) commission is engaged and talking with the stakeholders trying to see how he can bring them together to ensure that things don’t get out of hand.”

This came after Ivory Coast's electoral commission named opposition leader Ouattara winner of Sunday’s presidential runoff vote, but the Constitutional Council, which ratifies the results, says the decision is not legal.

The election commission chairman said Thursday that Ouattara defeated President Laurent Gbagbo 54 to 46 percent.

But, the head of the country’s Constitutional Council said the results were not valid because the election commission missed a constitutionally mandated midnight deadline Wednesday to announce the tally.

Soon after that broadcast, Ivory Coast's military announced on television that it had sealed air, land and sea borders and the country's media regulator said it had suspended foreign media broadcasts.

Ugoh said there is a need for both sides to resolve their differences to maintain the country’s relative peace and stability.

“Don’t forget that Cote d’Ivoire is one of our four biggest economies and that we cannot allow things to get out of hand and that we will remain engaged (there). The president (of ECOWAS) is working fastidiously to make sure that all the parties appreciate this and that all the parties will come together.”