Ivory Coast: Military coup feared after electoral coup d’etat

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Tension remains high in Ivory Coast as incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo continues to defy calls from the African Union, United States, France and the European Union to step down. Refusing to quit the presidential palace, President Elect Alassane Ouattara has been confined in a hotel from where he seeks his office.

Ivory Coast presidential election results were certified by the United Nations, and Ouattara’s victory has been recognized by world powers including the United States and France.

But incumbent president Gbagbo’s unwillingness to quit the presidential palace has forced some politicians in Ivory Coast to solicit the U.N. to use force and physically remove Gbagbo if he continues to cling to the office.

Mr. Gbagbo also defies the African Union, whose Peace and Security Council has moved to condemn the incumbent’s “usurpation of the popular will of the people in Cote d’Ivoire.”

“President Barack Obama called to congratulate Ouattara. President Sarkozy congratulated Ouattara. Germany sent it by fax. So did England. These are countries that are on the Security Council.

“If they cannot make this man respect the results of an election certified by the U.N., then we might as well stop talking about democracy in Africa,” Joel N’Guessan, spokesman of President Elect Alassane Ouattara was quoted as saying.

Suggesting that immediate steps should be taken to condemn the electoral coup d’état, The Centre for Democracy and Development, a non-governmental organisation, has called on the regional economic body, ECOWAS, to suspend Cote d’Ivoire “until there is a return to the constitutional order.”

On Monday, United Nations peacekeepers moved to protect the president elect Ouattara as the post-election violence intensifies in the West African country. A U.N. tank took position on one side of the Golf hotel where Ouattara is confined, and armored personnel carriers were strategically guarding the parking lot.

Meanwhile, fear of a military coup d’état has been expressed after militiamen of the New Forces rebels, who took over the north of the country during the civil war that broke out in 2002, told reporters that all they need is a word from Ouattara to go back to war if Gbagbo refuses to step down.

Gbagbo came to power ten years ago and stayed on as president five years after his legal term expired. He clamped down on TV and radio, shutting down foreign channels. Meanwhile, RTI, the state television, is broadcasting continuous loops showing his inauguration ceremony.

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