Ivory Coast puts EU on edge

Jan. 26, 2011 at 10:58 AM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- There is a clear verdict that the November elections in the Ivory Coast were fair, suggesting there shouldn't be rival claims to power, an EU monitor found.

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo said the country's courts decided a November election in his favor. The U.N. Security Council and the rest of the international community recognized rival contender Alassane Ouattara as the rightful successor to the presidency, however.

Cristian Preda, the head of the European Union's election observation mission in the Ivory Coast, told lawmakers their monitoring showed the elections were free and fair.

"Our clear verdict about the fairness of the elections can prevent a president from keeping the power," he said in a statement.

Preda said his team received numerous death threats while working in the Ivory Coast and neither of the leaders embraced the EU observation mission in the country.

African Union leaders said they would consider using military force to pressure Gbagbo to give up power. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, passed a Chapter VII mandate for the Ivory Coast, which permits the use of force.

U.N. leaders have suggested political tensions in the Ivory Coast are ripe for genocide. Preda said the former French colony could be on the brink of major war.

"The situation didn't lead to a civil war yet but this can still happen," he said.

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