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UNITED NATIONS, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday backed challenger Alassane Ouattara as winner of Ivory Coast’s disputed Nov. 28 presidential election, following the lead of West African regional bloc ECOWAS.
“In view of ECOWAS’ recognition of Mr. Alassane Dramane Ouattara as President-elect of (Ivory Coast) and representative of the freely expressed voice of the Ivorian people as proclaimed by the Independent Electoral Commission, the members of the Security Council call on all stakeholders to respect the outcome of the election,” a council statement said.
The statement, following days of negotiations among the 15 council members, appeared to strengthen the hand of Ouattara and weaken the position of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to hand over power in the world’s top cocoa grower.
Ivory Coast’s electoral commission had given victory to Ouattara by nearly 10 points. But the country’s Constitutional Council, headed by a Gbagbo ally, overturned that result charging fraud in some areas, and declared Gbagbo winner.
The Security Council statement, read to reporters by U.S. envoy Brooke Anderson, said council members “condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempt to subvert the popular will of the people, or undermine either the integrity of the electoral process or the free and fair elections...”
It also repeated a previous threat by the council to impose “targeted measures” -- code for sanctions -- against anyone attempting to threaten the peace process or obstruct U.N. operations in Ivory Coast. (Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Stacey Joyce)