Ivory Coast's Ouattara rejects Gbagbo offer

Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:35am GMT

By Tim Cocks

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara rejected on Wednesday the incumbent leader's offer of an international investigation into a disputed election as a political "game."

Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday invited an international committee to re-examine the results of the presidential election of November 28 to prevent a bitter power struggle with his rival from escalating into civil war.

Gbagbo said the committee could be headed by the African Union and also involve the West African organisation ECOWAS, the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Russia and China, all of whom have recognised Ouattara as winner.

"We've finished with these games," Patrick Achi, a spokesman for Ouattara's rival government told Reuters by phone.

"For the past five years, he tried manoeuvres to postpone the elections. Finally, we got there, he lost and he doesn't want to give up power. We don't think he's changed one bit."

Diplomats said the offer to submit to an international investigation was a delaying tactic.

The presidential election was intended to heal the scars of a 2002-03 war but has instead triggered a violent standoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara, with the latter internationally recognised as victor.

Gbagbo, who has been in power since a disputed election in 2000 and who survived an attempted coup in 2002 that triggered the war, has refused to step down despite international pressure and sanctions backed by world leaders.   Continued...

<p>A soldier directs traffic in Abidjan December 22, 2010. A power struggle between incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara over who won the election has escalated into a dangerous standoff that has shut down business and disrupted transport. REUTERS/Luc Gnago</p>
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