3 Dec 2010

Tensions rise after Ivory Coast election

6:44 pm on 3 December 2010

Tensions are rising in Ivory Coast over the results of a presidential election that was intended to reunify a country split by a civil war eight years ago.

Confusion surrounds the outcome of the vote last Sunday. The Constitutional Council - headed by an ally of President Laurent Gbagbo - has rejected a declaration by the Electoral Commission that opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara won the run-off election.

Now the military has sealed Ivory Coast's borders and says they will remain closed until further notice. All "foreign news channels" in the country are also suspended.

The BBC says supporters of Mr Gbagbo have tried to block the result, claiming there was fraud in the north, the region where Mr Ouattara is most popular. The north is controlled by former rebels.

Electoral Commission head Youssouf Bakayoko said Mr Ouattara had won 54% of the vote compared with 46% for Mr Gbagbo. He was speaking under armed guard at a hotel, rather than from the commission's headquarters.

At the same time, Constitutional Council head Paul Yao N'Dre, who is seen as being close to Mr Gbagbo, said the council was taking over from the election commission.

UN peacekeepers and the army are patrolling the streets of Abidjan to prevent any outbreak of trouble.

The UN Security Council has asked both sides to show restraint.

Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer. It was split in two after a civil war in 2002.

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, has called for the leaders to resolve their differences peacefully.

Meanwhile, the supreme court in Guinea has confirmed the victory of veteran opposition politician Alpha Conde in presidential elections.

Mr Conde won 53% of the vote, while his challenger, former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, won 47%.

The elections were the country's first democratic vote since gaining independence in 1958.