US President Barrack Obama joined other world leaders to congratulate the controversial winner of Ivory Coast's presidential election and called on incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to accept defeat in the west African country.
The electoral body early Friday declared Alassane Ouattara winner with 54.1 percent of votes, but the announcement was overturned by the country's Constitutional Council who went further to declare Gbagbo winner with 51 precent.
The Council is said to be a staunch ally of incumbent Gbagbo. It upheld complaints by Ggagbo that the vote had been rigged by supporters of Quattara in the rebel held north.
''I congratulate Alassane Ouattara on his victory in Cote d’Ivoire’s November 28 elections. The Independent Electoral Commission, credible and accredited observers, and the United Nations have all confirmed this result and attested to its credibility," the US President said in a statement.
"Cote d’Ivoire is now at a crossroads. I urge all parties, including incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, to acknowledge and respect this result, and to allow Cote d’Ivoire to move forward toward a peaceful, democratic future, leaving long years of conflict and missed opportunities in the past. The international community will hold those who act to thwart the democratic process and the will of the electorate accountable for their actions.''
U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Economic Community of West African States, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy whose country colonised Ivory Coast also said they recognised Ouattara as the winner.
Mixed bag of conflict
Allies of Ouattara had earlier warned of a possible return to war if the Constitutional Council, headed by Gbagbo party ally Paul Yao N'dre, overturned the provisional result.
"If Yao N'Dre does it he will be to blame for the next war in Ivory Coast," Reuters quoted Ouattara aide Jeannot Ahoussou as saying.
"This is typical of Gbagbo ... Unfortunately, it puts the country back into a potential conflict zone," Tara O'Connor of London-based Africa Risk Consulting told Reuters of Gbagbo's perceived reluctance to leave office.
The election held on November 28 is meant to reunify the country divided between a rebel-held north and a government controlled south since a 2002 civil war