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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council warned Ivory Coast on Thursday that it is prepared to take action against anyone thwarting the electoral process after the West African nation announced provisional voting results.
"The members of the Security Council reiterated their readiness to take the appropriate measures against those who obstruct the electoral process and, especially, the work of the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission)," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters.
Rice holds the rotating council presidency this month.
"Appropriate measures" is a diplomatic code word for sanctions.
An aide to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo told Reuters that the provisional results giving presidential challenger Alassane Ouattara victory in Ivory Coast's election are "not legally valid."
Gbagbo, running for re-election in the world's top cocoa producer, had already said the result was fraudulent and asked the top legal body to annul local votes from Ouattara strongholds in the north of the country.
"The members of the Security Council reminded the leaders that they bear primary responsibility for ensuring a peaceful process and called upon them to exercise restraint, refrain from any interference in the work of the IEC, and honor their commitments to respect the results," Rice said.
She added that Ivorians should address any complaints peacefully, using legal procedures available to them.
Rice said the 15 council members "further urged the supporters of the candidates to refrain from any provocation or recourse to violence throughout the electoral process."