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ECOWAS recognizes Cote d'Ivoire's Ouattara after close observation: Commission president

01-31-2011 13:49 BJT

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- ECOWAS Commission president James Victor Gbeho on Sunday defended the West African blog's stance to support Cote d'Ivoire's Alassane Ouattara as president- elect of the country, saying the decision was taken after close election observation and consultation with UN.

Gbeho made the remarks at the sidelines of the 16th African Union (AU) summit, which kicked off here in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The West African bloc has thrown its support for Ouattara, and have threatened the use of "legitimate force" if Laurent Gbagbo refuses to cede power.

"What many people do not know is that ECOWAS also fielded an observation team at the time of the two presidential elections," he noted.

"And when they (the elections) were finished, ECOWAS made a statement in which we said, in regard to the elections, despite of certain irregularities reported, to be free, fair and transparent, " Gbeho said.

"We fell short of giving numbers (of the votes) because we didn' t have them," he said.

However, he insisted that a copy of the tally sheet from every single polling station was made available to UN Special Representative for Cote d'Ivoire Choi Young-Jin, who re-evaluated the votes with experts and concluded that Ouattara won by 8 percent margin over Gbagbo.

He added that ECOWAS had listened to Choi's explanation of how the conclusion of Ouattara's victory was made, before the bloc made the decision to recognize him.

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Commission head told Xinhua that there is no deadline to resolve the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire.

He said the Peace and Security Council of AU has set up a panel to deal with the crisis. After one month of the panel's work, it will decide what steps to take.

Cote d'Ivoire has been trapped in a political impasse since the landmark presidential run-off held on Nov. 28. Both Gbagbo and Ouattara claimed victory and swore themselves in as president of the country, and formed their respective governments.

Gbagbo was backed by the country's Constitutional Council, while Ouattara has the support of the electoral commission and the international community including the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Gbagbo has been defying international requests, and has ordered the UN peacekeeping mission in Cote d'Ivoire, known as UNOCI, to leave the country. But UN has rejected his demand.

The West African country was put at the risk of a civil war.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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