|Choi rejected accusations that he had meddled in internal affairs by declaring Ouattara the winner [AFP]
Laurent Gbagbo had no grounds to dispute the results of the Cote d'Ivoire presidential election that gave Alassane Ouattara victory, the United Nations has said after reviewing the vote.
Defying international calls to step down, Gbagbo has sworn himself in for a new term and named a government, despite provisional results that gave Ouattara a near 10-point margin in the November 28 poll.
YJ Choi, the UN mission chief in the country, rejected accusations from the Gbagbo camp that he had meddled in their country's internal affairs by declaring Ouattara the winner, and said the decision by the constitutional council to annul Ouattara's victory was "not based on facts".
Ouattara has taken a presidential oath in a rival ceremony, refusing to back down in a power struggle that risks sending the West African nation back into conflict eight years after civil war split it into north and south.
"I am not interfering in Ivorian affairs ... I am only doing my job as requested by the Ivorian authorities," Choi said.
"I remain absolutely certain that I have found the truth concerning the will of the Ivorian people. The people have chosen one person ... Mr Alassane Ouattara with an irrefutable margin," he said.
Gbagbo's allies argued intimidation and fraud skewed the vote in the rebel-held north, a complaint the Constitutional Council - run by a staunch Gbagbo ally - upheld and used as grounds for cancelling hundreds of thousands of votes.
But Choi said there had been fewer recorded acts of violence in the north than in pro-Gbagbo western districts, and noted that even if these and other accusations were true, Ouattara still had a clear majority in the final tally.
Gbagbo remains in control of the army and state television, and has shown no signs of backing down despite calls from the United States, the European Union and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), which on Tuesday suspended Cote d'Ivoire.
"It's not for ECOWAS to decide who is winner ... of an election organised by Cote d'Ivoire," Alcide Djedje, Gbagbo's foreign minister, said, adding that the UN had "gone adrift".
Ouattara said he regretted the suspension and called for it to be lifted immediately.
"I therefore call on Mr Laurent Gbagbo to hand over power," Ouattara said.
"I hope reason will eventually prevail and that Gbagbo will submit to the will of the Ivorian people," he added, reiterating a call for his supporters to stay calm.
The pro-Gbagbo Notre Voie daily dismissed the meeting of West African leaders in Nigeria as "The Plotters' Summit".
Clashes with security forces and between rival supporters have left at least 28 dead and 280 wounded since November 26, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, with some observers fearing the real figure is double that.