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Cote d’Ivoire: Gbagbo supporters contest poll results 1

Supporters of Côte d’Ivoire’s President Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday physically prevented electoral officials from announcing the results of the presidential election run-off. Meanwhile, opposition leaders accused Gbagbo to steal the country’s election.

Damana Adia Pickass, a member of the electoral commission, seized papers with the election results from the hands of commission spokesman Bamba Yacouba when he was about to read them out, and tore them up in front of journalists. “We did not sign off on these results!”

Yacouba said afterward that the tallies — from three of the nation’s 18 regions — had been approved by the commission. He gave no results and security forces later ordered journalists to leave.

Gbagbo’s rival, Alassane Ouattara’s followers alleged earlier on Tuesday that Gbagbo was attempting a “confiscation of power” by preventing the commission from announcing the results.

The chaotic scene Tuesday night at the commission’s headquarters and the failure to release any significant tally two days after polls closed has increased tension and uncertainty in the world’s leading cocoa producer, which is struggling to unite after civil war eight years ago split the country in two. Profound divisions still exist between Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters.

Across Abidjan on Tuesday afternoon, stores closed early and people went home, fearing violence after the proclamation of results was delayed for a third time.

Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, the former head of the New Forces, responded by saying that the government’s reporting of violence on national TV was “partisan, hasty and incomplete.” His spokeswoman, Affoussy Bamba, said there had been no deaths in rebel-held territory, nor any attacks or tampering with ballot boxes.

“Our observers saw irregularities, some obstacles on the day of the vote and serious tension,” said EU electoral monitor mission head, Cristian Preda. “Democracy needs confidence and we can see there is more tension than confidence here.”

There were scattered reports of violence over the weekend and on voting day, though no violence was reported Monday or by early Tuesday.

Choi, the U.N. representative, said Monday that three people were killed during balloting Sunday as multiple clashes erupted between partisans in the west of the country. Despite these incidents, he said the vote went well overall.

Most of the weekend clashes between political supporters occurred in small villages where there is no police or military presence and residents set up roadblocks to keep outsiders away. About 1,000 people from several villages fled the violence and sought refuge at the U.N. compound in Sinfra on Sunday, U.N. mission spokesman Hamadoun Toure said. He said the villagers refused to leave because they feared for their lives. Most of them had returned home by Monday afternoon, he said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to both candidates to “subject themselves to the will of the Ivorian people”.

Jonathan, chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), is asking Gbagbo and Ouattara to “tone down their rhetoric and maintain the peace at this very critical stage”.

Sources: RFI, AFP

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  1. […] Three days prior to the vote, the EU electoral observers noted that they had seen a “lack of respect by the CEI (independent electoral commission) of its agreements with observers,” and that “(d)espite a number of requests addressed to the CEI, the EU mission continues to face significant obstacles accessing electoral operations”. The head of the EU electoral monitoring mission, Cristian Preda, then noted shortly after the vote that “(o)ur observers saw irregularities, some obstacles on the day of the vote and serious tension”. […]

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