December 5, 2010

Former President Mbeki to mediate Ivory Coast election dispute

The African Union is sending former South African president Thabo Mbeki to Ivory Coast to mediate in the country's political dispute. The two main candidates in the country's presidential elections have held swearing-in ceremonies. Both the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo and his opposition rival Alassane Ouattara say they have taken office.

Mr Gbagbo seems determined to remain in power despite election results from the independent Electoral Commission showing his rival Mr Ouattara had won the election by 8 per cent. The Constitutional Council disagreed, naming Mr Gbagbo as the winner after declaring hundreds of thousands of votes in the north of the country as void.
Mr Ouattara has the backing of the international community. The international community helped pay for these elections - one of the world's most expensive relative to population ever held.

During his swearing in ceremony, Mr Gbagbo pledged to respect the constitution and protect the rights and liberties of Ivorian citizens. But the room was notable for the absence of almost every foreign diplomat based in Abidjan. Furthermore, there have been demonstrations in the northern town of Bouake by his supporters. (sapa)

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