Cote d’Ivoire leader defends stand

Election body that declared Ouattara the winner of runoff vote “does not have jurisdiction”, Gbagbo tells Al Jazeera.

Cote d’Ivoire’s president has said the electoral body that declared his rival winner of the November runoff vote “does not have jurisdiction” and “gives provisional results”.

Laurent Gbagbo, who has scoffed at calls to quit, told Al Jazeera in an interview that giving provisional results is “how [the electoral commission] should normally function”.

“In addition … the electoral commission didn’t give any results. It had a three-day mandate to give results, but failed to do so,” he said.

“On the fourth day, when they were out of their mandate, the ambassadors of France and the US went to take the chair of the electoral commission and [were] brought in to the Golf Hotel, which is the campaign headquarters of my opponent, which of course discredited what was going to be said there.”

Gbagbo refused to step down after the constitutional court rejected the results of the electoral commission which declared Alassane Quattara winner, plunging the country in a political crisis with the two men laying claim to the presidency of the former Ivory Coast.

The international community – including the UN, France, the US and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS – have called on him to step down after recognising Quattara as the winner.

Asked whether he does not feel diplomatically isolated, Gbagbo said: “Yes [I do], but it is not the first time.”

He said he was willing to co-operate with an international monitoring committee to investigate allegations of killings and abductions in the West African nation, where the UN says nearly 200 people have been killed in post-election violence.

“I want this monitoring committee – which is composed of the African Union, ECOWAS, the EU, the US, Russia, China, from all over; the Arab League – I want this committee to come here and review all the electoral documents and seek the truth,” he said.

Gbagbo also said that power sharing with his rival “is not a good solution” to the crisis.

“The solution is that we must discover the truth about who won the election and once we have determined who won, then we’ll give him power,” he said.

Strike call

For their part, Quattara’s allies have called for a general strike they say will begin on Monday and last until the incumbent concedes defeat.

The planned strike is the latest form of pressure to try to force Gbagbo from the presidency nearly a month after the runoff vote.

Djedje Mady, who heads Ouattara’s electoral coalition, said it called on “all Ivorians and those who live in Cote d’Ivoire and believe in peace and justice to cease all their activities on Monday, December 27, 2010, until Laurent Gbagbo leaves power”. 

Patrick Achi, Ouattara’s spokesman, said: “We are saying to people: ‘He has to leave.’ We should stop everything instead of going to streets to march and get killed.”

But Ama Boateng, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Abidjan, said the strike call appears to have been ignored.

“If there’s a stay at home; if there’s a strike, it’s not clear from the indications of traffic that we have seen this morning,” she said.

The call for the strike came as a spokesman for Gbagbo warned that civil war could break out in the country if ECOWAS carries out threats to force the disputed leader from power.

Ahoua Don Mello also called threats of military action from the bloc “a Western plot directed by France” against Gbagbo.

Yao Gnamien, Gbagbo’s special adviser, told Al Jazeera from Abidjan: “I think that the use of force is forbidden in the international relation of any country.”

He said: “It [force] is against the charter of the United Nations. The UN cannot use force against the president. The AU cannot use force against our president.”

Pressure to force out Gbagbo intensified on Sunday with Switzerland impounding the president’s plane at an airport in the Swiss city of Basel, the French foreign ministry said.

A spokesman for the Switzerland’s civil aviation authority confirmed the aircraft is being prevented from flying back to Cote d’Ivoire following requests from the French government and Ouattara to seize it.

“Cote d’Ivoire’s legitimate authorities (Ouattara’s party) have asked us to ground the aircraft and it is precisely what we have done,” Bernard Valero, France’s foreign ministry spokesman, told the Reuters news agency.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


In an interview with Al Jazeera, incumbent president of Cote d’Ivoire welcomes UN investigators.

27 Dec 2010
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