Tense Cote d'Ivoire awaits results

Presidential election results are due to be announced later today as security is tightened in the capital.

    Tension is growing in Cote d'Ivoire, after a promise to publish election results on Wednesday morning was broken

    Results in Cote d'Ivoire's landmark presidential election have been delayed as supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president, accused the opposition of fraud and pushed to scrap votes in several regions.

    Authorities had promised to announce delayed results on Wednesday morning, amid fears of unrest after disruptions and accusations of abuses in the election, already marred by at least seven deaths in vote-related violence.

    By midday, however, reporters were still being barred from the electoral commission's headquarters, which were surrounded by soldiers and police.

    Allies of Gbagbo vowed to ensure the annulment of votes in four northern regions, while the camp of his main rival Alassane Ouattara accused the president of trying to steal power by blocking the announcement of partial results. 

    It is nearly 48 hours since polls closed on Sunday's presidential run-off.

    Unrest fears

    Troops have redeployed to secure the main city of Abidjan on Wednesday, awaiting results of the polls which seek to end a decade of instability in the world's biggest cocoa producer.

    "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

    "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 added.

    The commission is legally obliged to announce a winner by the end of the day, but they then have to be confirmed or otherwise by the Constitutional Council, which is headed by a close associate of Gbagbo.

    Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, reporting from Abidjan, said "constitutionally" the independent national electoral commission "must announce the results by midnight tonight".

    "The commission has a legal obligation to announce the winner in this race," she said.

    "If there is any dispute after it will have to go to the constitutional court."

    Chaotic scenes

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

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

    At an earlier press 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


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