UPDATE 2-Russia blocks UN council Ivory Coast statement

Tue Dec 7, 2010 11:47pm GMT

* West wants statement backing Ouattara as president-elect

* Russia says U.N. should not announce an election winner (Updates with meeting ending without agreement)

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Russia on Tuesday blocked a U.N. Security Council statement that would recognize challenger Alassane Ouattara as the winner of Ivory Coast's disputed presidential election, diplomats said.

After five and a half hours of closed-door discussions, the council adjourned for the day with Russian envoys saying they needed further instructions from Moscow, the diplomats said.

Ivory Coast's electoral commission last week announced that Ouattara had won the Nov. 28 poll, but the Constitutional Council overturned the result, awarding victory to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. The head of the U.N. mission in the West African nation, Y.J. Choi, declared Ouattara the winner.

"Russia questioned the U.N. 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.

"This is a unique situation," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said.

"I don't know why Russia is quibbling with resolutions that it itself voted for," she told reporters, adding that Choi was "not picking a winner, he's simply certifying the results of the Independent Electoral Commission."   Continued...

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