The head of Ivory Coast’s electoral commission on Thursday declared opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the winner of the West African country’s contested presidential election in comments that were not broadcast on state TV, before ruling party loyalists called the announcement an “attempted coup” and took to the airwaves to denounce them as unofficial.
Youssouf Bakayoko said Ouattara had won with 54.1 percent of the vote, compared with 45.9 percent for Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo after days of backroom wrangling during which the ruling party had physically prevented other commission members from announcing the election outcome.
The race is far from over because the victory must be validated by the country’s constitutional council, which is led by ruling party loyalist Paul Yao N’Dre. N’Dre appeared on state-controlled television where he said that the electoral body’s results were not valid because the commission had missed a constitutionally mandated midnight deadline on Wednesday.
Soon after, two separate decrees read on state TV announced that all foreign radio and TV broadcasts are being banned indefinitely and that the country’s air, land and maritime borders had been closed.
The development heightens uncertainty and casts a shadow over the country’s first election in 10 years, which was meant to restore stability after political infighting plunged it into civil war in 2002.
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