December 3rd 2010, Côte d’Ivoire locked down, 3rd round on the streets?

Ivory Coast was in lockdown Friday with all borders sealed and foreign broadcasts jammed (no more CNN, France24, TF1, Euronews, TV5 Monde…) as President Laurent Gbagbo’s allies rejected election results that showed him beaten by his rival. World powers sharpened their warnings to Ivorian leaders to settle the dispute peacefully, but the chaos in the West African state deepened after days of bloodshed and fraud allegations that have disrupted the landmark vote. On Thursday the electoral commission (CEI) announced that provisional results showed opposition leader Alassane Ouattara had beaten Gbagbo in the disputed polls by 54 percent to 46. But top Gbagbo ally Paul Yao N’Dre, the head of the country’s Constitutional Council which has the final say on elections, said the results were invalid since the commission had over-run the legal deadline for releasing its results. The United Nations mission in the country has judged the polls sound overall. Supporters of Ouattara, known to them by his initials “ADO”, celebrated Thursday after the announcement and some headlines Friday hailed the result while others led with the sheer chaos of the electoral standoff. Ouattara has accused Gbagbo of trying to cling to power by blocking the results of the election, which has been marred by bloodshed. The council was expected to make an announcement later in the day. It could choose to annul the results under pressure from Gbagbo’s camp and proclaim the president the winner, which would risk igniting tensions. In the pro-Ouattara district of Abobo, scene of deadly pre-poll violence, Ouattara supporters wearing shirts with his face on came into the streets warily on Friday morning, watched over tensely by armed securityforces. “They do just what they like. They have seized power,” said one, referring to Gbagbo’s camp.

The main city Abidjan was coming slowly back to life Friday morning, with shops opening again and traffic picking up after several days of tense quiet waiting for an outcome. But amid fears of unrest, the government sealed the country off from the outside world. “The land, air and sea borders are closed to all movement of people and goods from this Thursday at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT) until further notice,” the army said in a declaration on state television. Shortly afterwards foreign television news channels including France 24 and CNN as well as Radio France International went off the air in Ivory Coast. An official statement said this was to “keep the peace.” Witnesses accused security forces of shooting dead eight Ouattara supporters at a local office of his RDR party in a largely pro-Gbagbo district of Abidjan on Wednesday night. The army confirmed the incident but said it had come under fire first and that it had retaliated, killing four. Gbagbo supporters said one of its offices nearby was also attacked and two people injured. Ouattara called on his “brother” Gbagbo to accept the result, promising to form a unity government and “bring together the nation in the values of peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and union.”

Today Pony will stay at home… again..


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