Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ivory Coast: Election observer Preda calls for verdict to be recognised

Supporters of Alassane Ouattara, who the world says won Ivory Coast's disputed Presidential vote, protest with a banner reading 'Gbabgo accept the vote and Go' on the sidelines of a meeting between Ouattara and envoys representing the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)on January 3, 2011. ©BELGA
The stalemate following the Ivory Coast election continues unabated with incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refusing to accept that his opponent Alassane Ouattara won the November Presidential poll. The UN, EU and the European Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have accepted Ouattara as the victor and called on Gbagbo to step aside. We spoke to the head of the European Parliament's election observation mission to Ivory Coast, Cristian Dan Preda (EPP), about the situation. 

He warned that the situation could escalate and noted that at least 200 people have died in election-related violence since 28 November. The election result recognised by the United Nations gives Mr Ouattara  54.1% of the votes and Mr Gbagbo 45.9%.

President Laurent Gbagbo is in the Presidential Palace guarded by Ivorian troops whilst Alassane Ouattara is in a hotel guarded by UN and ECOWAS soldiers. A delegation of senior officials from neighbouring countries have met Mr Gbagbo and tried and failed to get him to step aside. The Nigerian President Good luck Jonathon is believed to be leading the West African mediation efforts.

Sanctions and Gbagbo assets frozen

In December the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Mr Gbagbo to stand aside. It also threw its weight behind collective measures being taken by EU governments to implement sanctions against the Gbagbo regime and freeze the assets and revoke the visa of Mr Gbagbo and his advisers. A few days later the UN's Security Council passed a resolution congratulating the people of the Ivory Coast on holding the election and demanding that Mr Gbagbo recognise the result.

Cristian Dan Preda said, the ex-President "must accept the verdict of the ballot box". He stressed the need for "negotiations and sanctions" to resolve the situation and noted, "it is not often that the international community speak with one voice" as they are doing over Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast used to be hailed as one of West Africa's great success stories for its democracy and growing economy. Its people will be hoping for a successful resolution of this crisis as soon as possible.

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