Tue, Dec 07, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Gbagbo has seized power, rivals claim

Bloomberg and Reuters, BRUSSELS and WASHINGTON

Supporters of opposition leader Alassane Dramane Ouattara move a counter box to construct a barricade in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Sunday amid protests over the presidential run-off results. The Ivory Coast Constitutional Council overturned the results to declare President Laurent Gbagbo the winner.

Photo: EPA

Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who was sworn in as Ivory Coast’s president on Saturday in defiance of the UN and the Electoral Commission, has seized power, the opposition said, while offering to integrate his ministers into a new government.

“We are in the logic of confiscation of power,” Guillaume Soro, Gbagbo’s former prime minister who resigned last week and joined the rival cabinet of Alassane Dramane Ouattara as prime minister, told Europe1 radio yesterday. “The alternation of power must be allowed.”

Gbagbo, 65, was sworn in as president after the Constitutional Council rejected the Electoral Commission’s vote count from the Nov. 28 election, alleging vote rigging in some northern states. Hours later, Ouattara, 68, said he had taken the oath of office, citing the 54.1 percent of the vote the commission says he won. The UN, the EU and the US have all backed Ouattara.

“There will be no witch hunts,” said Soro, a former rebel commander in the north.

“If Laurent Gbagbo agrees to peacefully transfer power, ministers of his party will be welcome” in the new government. Ouattara “has taken refuge in a hotel,” he said.

Clashes between the rival camps have claimed the lives of 18 people in Abidjan alone over the past three days, Amadou Coulibaly, a spokesman for Ouattara’s party, said late on Sunday. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the city on Sunday.

The country’s borders, which were sealed off on Thursday, would reopen yesterday, army spokesman Hilaire Gohourou said in a statement read on state television.

Uncertainty created by the disputed presidential election in Ivory Coast endangers stability in the country and the region, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said yesterday.

“Last week, we have seen the unfolding of a story we have unfortunately seen too many times — the story of democratic elections where the results were not accepted by those who were defeated, thus putting at risk stability and peace in their country and the region,” Barroso told a development conference.

“I am referring to the situation in Ivory Coast,” he said.

The World Bank and African Development Bank on Sunday expressed “great concern and frustration” with the disputed results and said they would review their lending programs to the nation.

“In line with our policies, we will continue to closely monitor developments and reassess the usefulness and effectiveness of our programs given the breakdown in governance,” the banks said in a joint statement.

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