Russia blocks UN council I.Coast statement: envoys


The UN Security Council debated the crisis in Ivory Coast with Russia opposing a statement that would recognize challenger Alassane Ouattara as winner of a presidential election, diplomats said.

After three hours of mainly closed-door discussions, the council adjourned until later in the day after Russian envoys said they needed to consult Moscow, the diplomats said.

Ivory Coast’s electoral commission last week announced that Ouattara had won the November 28 poll, but the result was overturned by the Constitutional Council, which awarded victory to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. The head of the UN mission in Ivory Coast, Y.J. Choi, declared Ouattara the winner, Reuters reports.
“Russia questioned the UN announcing the winner,” one Western envoy said in New York. Western officials have said Choi was entitled to do so as under a 2005 post-civil war peace deal he was empowered to certify election results.

Diplomats said the council debate could be swayed by an announcement on Tuesday by West African regional bloc ECOWAS that it recognized Ouattara as president-elect of the world’s top cocoa grower and urged Gbagbo to cede power immediately.

Endorsement of Ouattara by the Security Council would leave Gbagbo with few friends in the outside world. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already publicly backed Ouattara’s claim.

In a brief public part of the council meeting, Choi told the council the election result was “very clear.”
“There was only one winner, with a clear margin,” he said by video link from Abuja, Nigeria, where ECOWAS was meeting.
“The moment has come for us to safeguard the result,” he said. “Ignoring the will of the people at this stage would be a let-down of the people of (Ivory Coast) and a waste of significant resources invested over the past eight years by the international community.”

Diplomats said that during the closed part of the council session, Choi said extensive checks made by hundreds of members of the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast to verify the results left no doubt Ouattara had won. The Constitutional Council’s reversal of the result was “not based on facts,” Choi was quoted as saying, and the irregularities cited by the body were not enough to change the outcome.