December 23, 2010 / 8:37 AM / 9 years ago

U.N. recognizes Ouattara as Ivory Coast's president

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday recognized Alassane Ouattara as Ivory Coast’s legitimate president, after the United Nations said he beat Laurent Gbagbo in last month’s presidential election.

Alassane Ouattara speaks during a news conference at Hotel du Golf, his new headquarters, in Abidjan December 3, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

The 192-nation General Assembly formally recognized Ouattara by unanimously deciding that the list of diplomats he submitted to the world body be recognized as the sole official representatives of Ivory Coast at the United Nations. The country’s new U.N. ambassador is Youssouf Bamba.

Gbagbo has refused to quit following a November 28 election that African countries, Western powers and the United Nations say was won by challenger Ouattara, sparking a political crisis that has killed at least 173 people and threatens to reignite the country’s 2002-2003 civil war.

The move by the United Nations will serve to strengthen Ouattara’s claim to be the legitimate leader of Ivory Coast and deepen the isolation of Gbagbo, who has few supporters across the international community, U.N. diplomats told Reuters.

Gbagbo’s U.N. ambassador, Alcide Djedje, already has left New York, as have all of his staff, Western diplomats told Reuters, adding that they had taken computer hard drives from the Ivory Coast mission with them. Djedje is now Gbagbo’s foreign minister.

Separately, the U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast, known as UNOCI, said it was concerned about “severe violations of human rights and acts of intimidation” in parts of the country’s main city Abidjan and in western Ivory Coast.

“These acts include identifying dwellings by marking them with distinctive signs,” UNOCI said in a statement.

“At night, armed individuals enter people’s residences to perpetrate abductions or commit other crimes,” UNOCI said.

Diplomats in New York said that the marking of homes was worrying, because it could indicate that some groups were preparing for ethnic violence.

UNOCI is facing difficulties since its supply trucks and patrols are being blocked by forces loyal to Ggagbo, it said.

The peacekeeping contingent has also warned that pro-Gbagbo forces were blocking access to what could be a mass grave near Abidjan.

Uganda’s U.N. Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda also spoke about Ivory Coast during a news conference to discuss his country’s two-year stint on the U.N. Security Council, which comes to an end on December 31. He urged Gbagbo to step down and hand power to Ouattara, but added that Ggagbo deserved a smooth departure.

“It’s important to ensure that Gbagbo has a proper exit, so that he can exit power” by either remaining in Ivory Coast with security guarantees or moving to a neighbouring country, Rugunda said.

Editing by Xavier Briand

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