Chaotic scenes have prevented the results being announced amid accusations of cheating by both sides [AFP]

Cote d'Ivoire has missed a deadline for releasing results in its presidential election after a midnight cut-off point passed with no announcement by electoral authorities.

Youssouf Bakoyoko, the head of the electoral commission which was legally obliged to announce the results by the end of Wednesday, said on television minutes before the deadline that the body was still working to reach a consensus on results.

"We're deliberating ... When we are ready, we will return to the air to communicate all the results to the entire population,'' he said.

Supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president, and those of Alassane Ouattara, the opposition leader, have accused each other of trying to rig Sunday's poll, with Gbagbo's party asking for the as yet unpublished results to be cancelled.

Allies of Ouattara say Gbagbo is stalling the publication of results because he knows he has lost and that taking complaints to the Constitutional Council after blocking the electoral commission from releasing them would be illegal.

After the results are announced they have to be confirmed by the Constitutional Council, a body headed by a close associate of Gbagbo.

Blocking announcement

Allies of the president had vowed to ensure the annulment of votes in four northern regions, while Ouattara's camp accused him of trying to steal power by blocking the announcement of partial results. 

"We are waiting for news but it never comes. It's making people afraid. After the results are announced, if they are contested that could lead to days of trouble"

Marcel Camara,
Ivorian national

Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, reporting from Abidjan, said that as a consequence of the deadline being missed, the Constitutional Court of Cote d'Ivoire can step into the matter.

"The court could in essence take away control from the commission and try and decide who has won this election," she said.

"There are three options on the table: They could validate the results; they could invalidate the results; or they could suspend them, which could potentially mean a re-run of the election in some of the regions where Laurent Gbagbo is disputing the outcome," our correspondent said.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, criticised the failure to release provisional presidential election results and called for their publication "without further delay".

Troops had been redeployed to secure Abidjan on Wednesday, ahead of the results of the polls which seek to end a decade of instability in the world's biggest cocoa producer.

"People are going a bit crazy. There are hundreds of rumours of violence so the atmosphere is rather tense," said Marcel Camara, a local resident from the Abobo district of Abidjan, where a curfew has been in force since Saturday.

"We are waiting for news but it never comes. It's making people afraid. After the results are announced, if they are contested that could lead to days of trouble," he said.

Chaotic scenes

Chaotic scenes prevented results being announced on Tuesday amid accusations of cheating by both sides, though the UN mission in the country said the election was fair overall.

Sources told Al Jazeera that preliminary results put Ouattara ahead and that Gbagbo would reject the results of Sunday's run-off vote on the grounds of fraud and intimidation.

At an earlier news conference, a supporter of Gbagbo in the commission seized papers with partial results from the hands of a spokesman who was about to read them out and tore them up, before the spokesman was escorted away by police.

"We will fight to the end to ensure that the true results are published," Pascal Affi N'Guessan, Gbagbo's spokesman, told a news conference on Wednesday.

"We will do all in our power for the results in all areas where fraud took place in the elections fraudulently to be annulled, so that the outcome of the ballots reflects the real opinion of our countrymen."

Nearly six million people were eligible to vote in the poll, aimed at reuniting the nation after eight years of division

Ouattara's camp earlier accused Gbagbo's allies of deliberately blocking the results.

"Laurent Gbagbo is aiming for a confiscation of power and aiming to drive the country once again into chaos," Albert Mabri Toikeusse, a spokesman for Ouattara, told a news conference.

The election is intended to end years of crisis in the west African country, which was split in two when former rebels of the New Forces took control of the north after a foiled coup bid against Gbagbo in 2002.

Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) party said voters had been intimidated by security forces and barred from voting, alleging that ballot papers had been tampered with.

Gbagbo's side in turn accused Ouattara supporters of raiding voting stations in the north.

International observers confirmed there were some abuses, but Choi Young-jin, the head of the UN mission in the country, said the vote "was generally conducted in a democratic climate" despite some violent incidents.

Calls for calm have increased, with Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, urging Ivorian leaders "to act responsibly and peacefully".

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's chief diplomat, called on authorities to respect "the will of the Ivorian people" and release the results.

But hundreds of army and former rebel troops previously dispatched from either side of the north-south political divide to secure the vote together have pulled back to their strongholds, Rene Sacko, a senior army officer, said on Tuesday.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies