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Ivory Coast, security forces kill 8

By on December 2, 2010

Security forces in Ivory Coast shot dead eight people at the office of election challenger Alassane Ouattara overnight as authorities missed a deadline to publish results of the disputed presidential poll.

Separately the West African country’s top legal body said on Thursday it had the right to annul results from certain voting districts, as requested by incumbent Laurent Gbagbo’s party, which has accused rebels in the north of mass vote-rigging.
In a sign of mounting tensions, army spokesman Major Colonel Babri Gonourou told state television that security forces shot people at a Ouattara party office in an Abidjan suburb in response to fire. The opposition called it an unprovoked attack.
“The gendarmes came and opened fire for a good while, killing four people and injuring over a dozen,” said Issouf Diomande, a representative of Ouattara’s party.
Separately, members of Gbagbo’s party said they had been attacked at their residence in the same suburb by Ouattara’s militants, leaving some of them wounded.
The vote in the world’s top cocoa grower is meant to reunite the country after a 2002-2003 war, but has also exposed existing divisions. The United Nations warned politicians late on Wednesday they would be held responsible for any violence.
Fears of unrest pushed cocoa prices up over three percent in early Thursday trade. Many Ivorian exporters have suspended business. The yield on Ivory Coast’s ê2.3 billion Eurobond has ticked slightly higher, reaching 10.68 percent compared to its pre-vote levels of below 10 percent.
The election commission failed to meet a Wednesday deadline to publish provisional results despite concerted international pressure for the to do so.
Ouattara’s camp say their candidate has won and several websites have posted vote tallies appearing to show that he took 54 percent of the vote. But so far the only official figures to have emerged are those for the tiny expatriate vote.
STALLING? Gbagbo’s party has urged the Constitutional Council to cancel the results in the rebel-held north, where Ouattara did well in the first round, alleging intimidation by rebels.
“We have the competence to judge results of the presidential election, which means we can invalidate results in certain voting bureaux where there were problems, permitting us not to count their votes,” said Paul Tayoro, the council’s spokesman.
The body’s chief is Paul Yao N’Dre, a staunch Gbagbo ally.
Allies of Ouattara, a northerner who denies links with the rebellion that split the country in two, say Gbagbo is stalling results from the Nov. 28 run-off because he knows he has lost.
They say that blocking the electoral commission from even releasing the tally is illegal. Late on Tuesday, pro-Gbagbo commission members snatched the results from the hands of a spokesman as he tried to read them out to journalists.
Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Gbagbo’s campaign chief, has said that rebel-led intimidation made voting impossible for Gbagbo supporters in the north, which is still run by rebels.
“It is because of all these irregularities that we have lodged a request to cancel votes,” N’Guessan said.
Ouattara said the delay over the results was “unacceptable” and called on Gbagbo to respect them. But he himself has yet to formally claim victory.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the world body “would safeguard the electoral process so that the will of the Ivorian people as expressed in the election will be respected”.
In a further sign of international concerns over the stalemate, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has warned the presidential candidates “they may be held accountable for any violence committed in their name”.
A curfew due to end on Thursday has been extended to Sunday. (Reuters)

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