ABUJA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Lawyers for Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo have asked a court in Nigeria to annul declarations by regional body ECOWAS that his rival Alassane Ouattara won a presidential election last November.
Ivory Coast has been in turmoil since the Nov. 28 polls which Gbagbo claimed he won, despite U.N. certified results showing he lost to Ouattara. The standoff threatens to rekindle a civil war in the world’s top cocoa grower.
Ouattara was recognised by world leaders as winner of the election but Gbagbo refused to step aside after the country’s Constitutional Council, run by one of his staunch allies, declared him the victor.
Gbagbo’s legal team filed a suit at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Nigeria’s capital Abuja saying that the regional body’s recognition of Ouattara as president “violates the supremacy” of Ivory Coast’s constitutional council.
His lawyers also said the recognition by ECOWAS of Ouattara as president violated United Nations resolutions.
“We are urging the court to hold that these pronouncements are illegal and if they are illegal, they are null and void and that they should suspend any action in respect of (them),” one of Gbagbo’s lawyers, Mohammed Lamine Faye, told reporters.
The United States, the European Union and African countries have heaped pressure on Gbagbo to step down, including measures to cut off his access to cash to pay salaries to civil servants and the soldiers that support him. [ID:nLDE71D28F]
ECOWAS has threatened the use of force if Gbagbo refuses to give way in the world's top cocoa producer. (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ ) (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Nick Tattersall)