Ivory Coast locked down after president loses election

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Ivory Coast is in lockdown with ports, borders, and airports sealed and foreign broadcasts jammed as president Laurent Gbagbo’s allies rejected election results that showed him beaten by his rival.

Supporters of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara celebrate in the streets after the electoral commission head announced his victory in last Sunday’s presidential run-off, in the Abobo neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast The results were delayed amid accusations of cheating by both sides, though the United Nations mission said the election was sound overall Photo: AP

 World powers sharpened their warnings to Ivorian leaders to settle the dispute peacefully, but the chaos in the west African state deepened after days of bloodshed and fraud allegations that have disrupted the landmark vote.

“The land, air and sea borders are closed to all movement of people and goods from this Thursday at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT) until further notice,” the army said in a declaration on state television.

Shortly afterwards foreign television news channels including France 24 and CNN as well as Radio France International went off the air in Ivory Coast. An official statement said this was to “keep the peace.”

Authorities had ordered “the immediate suspension of all foreign news channels” carried by the Canal+ Horizon network, which provides all such broadcasts available in Ivory Coast, the statement said.

Earlier, the electoral commission (CEI) had announced that provisional results showed opposition leader Alassane Ouattara had beaten Mr Gbagbo in the disputed polls by 54 to 46 per cent.

But Paul Yao N’Dre, an ally of the president and the head of the country’s Constitutional Council which has the final say on elections, said the results were invalid since the commission had over-run the legal deadline for releasing its results.

A UN Security Council statement said after an emergency meeting that its members “reiterated their readiness to take the appropriate measures against those who obstruct the electoral process” – a veiled threat of sanctions.

Mr Ouattara has accused Mr Gbagbo of trying to cling to power by blocking the results of the election, which has been marred by bloodshed.

Witnesses meanwhile gave more details of violence, accusing security forces of having shot dead eight Ouattara supporters at a local office of his RDR party in a largely pro-Gbagbo district of Abidjan.

The army confirmed the incident but said it had come under fire first and that it had retaliated, killing four.

The polls aim to end a decade of instability in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer and formerly west Africa’s most prosperous country.

It was shaken by a coup in 1999 and split in two when rebels of the New Forces took control of the north, Ouattara’s homeland, after a foiled coup against Gbagbo in 2002.

The results were delayed amid accusations of cheating by both sides, though the United Nations mission said the election was sound overall

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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