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Russia blocks UN statement backing Ouattara

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-12-08

Despite the world's largely unified pressure on incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to challenger Alassane Ouattara, Russia is blocking a UN Security Council statement that backs Ouattara as the winner of Ivory Coast’s presidential election.

Though pressure from the international community has mounted against Ivory Coast's incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, in his post-election standoff against challenger Alassane Ouattara, the UN has been unable to reach a unified position on the unfolding crisis.

Russia on Tuesday blocked a UN Security Council statement that would recognise Alassane Ouattara as the winner of Ivory Coast’s disputed presidential election, diplomats have said.

The UN Security Council’s backing of Ouattara would further isolate Gbagbo on the world stage after West African regional bloc ECOWAS on Tuesday recognised Ouattara as president-elect. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also announced his support for Ouattara.

Alassane Ouattara - Portrait

Ivory Coast’s electoral commission last week announced that Ouattara had won the Nov. 28 election against Gbagbo. But the Constitutional Council, headed by a Gbagbo ally, overruled that declaration, naming Gbagbo as the winner and throwing the country into a tense political stalemate.

Despite widespread international condemnation of Gbagbo, Russia has questioned whether the UN is overstepping its mandate by declaring a winner in Ivory Coast’s election.

US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has argued, on the other hand, that the Security Council should urgently join appeals for Gbagbo to step aside. Rice said she hoped debate would continue on Wednesday.

West African bloc ramps up the pressure

Gbagbo has rejected international calls for him to cede power, naming a new cabinet Tuesday two days after Ouattara had announced his own government.

Meanwhile, following an emergency summit in Nigeria, the 15-nation ECOWAS increased the pressure on Gbagbo by suspending Ivory Coast’s involvement in the group. ECOWAS’ acting president, Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan, warned against efforts to forge a power-sharing deal, as has been done in Zimbabwe or Kenya.

The turmoil over Ivory Coast’s election results has renewed fears of violence in a country still reeling after a 2002-2003 war.

Though life in the country’s financial capital Abidjan has mostly returned to normal, skirmishes with security forces and between supporters of the two candidates have resulted in at least 28 dead and 280 wounded since Nov. 26, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The threat of unrest has caused the UN, which has roughly 10,000 peacekeepers in Ivory Coast, to begin withdrawing non-military staff from the country.

Gbagbo was sworn in as president last week and proceeded to announce his new government as the UN, the US, France and others called for him to step aside and recognise Ouattara as the winner of the election, as determined by provisional results.

But Gbagbo has brushed off the mounting international protest, calling his first cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Several of those assigned to key cabinet posts are Gbagbo loyalists, like Alcide Djédjé, an ambassador to the UN that Gbagbo has named foreign minister.

Djédjé is expected to travel to Ouagadougou in neighbouring Burkina Faso on Wednesday for talks with that country’s president, Blaise Campaoré. Campaoré served as mediator in the peace accord forged between Gbagbo and leader of the New Forces rebel group Guillaume Soro, who subsequently became prime minister.

Date created : 2010-12-08


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