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African Country with Two Presidents Presents A Dilema

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

West African leaders are closely watching the Ivory Coast where two men claiming victory in last week’s elections held separate swearing in ceremonies and appointed their own cabinets.

Laurent Gbagbo, the reigning president, named his government on Tuesday, while his rival, Alassane Ouattara, named his team at a separate location. World leaders have been lining up behind candidate Ouattara, including President Barack Obama, who congratulated Ouattara as the rightful winner.

According to the final vote tally announced on Dec. 2, four days after the Nov. 28 poll, candidate Ouattara was the victor with 54.1 percent, or 2.5 million votes, and President Laurent Gbagbo was the loser, with 45.9 percent, or 2.1 million.

But Gbagbo’s hand-picked Constitutional Council tore up the electoral body’s decision and declared Pres. Gbagbo to be the winner.

This week, a top UN envoy told the UN Security Council that opposition leader Alassane Ouattara clearly captured the most votes. “There was only one winner — with a clear margin,” Mr Choi Young-Jin, special representative of the UN’s chief, Ban ki-Moon, said.

"We hope President Gbagbo makes the right choice," U.S. State Dept. spokesman P.J. Crowley told a news briefing. "We are obviously concerned that if the current government makes the wrong choices there could very well be the risk of violence."

More than 10,000 military peacekeepers are already in the Ivory Coast – a world leader in the production and export of cocoa - since a split between the country’s north and south precipitated violence in 2002. Tensions between the two regions provided Pres. Gbagbo the rationale to hold on to his post long after his term expired in 2005.

Meanwhile, Liberian Minister Cletus Sieh warned that some "players" in the Ivory Coast political crisis were talking to some former Liberian warlords and ex-combatants, apparently to get them involved. Ivory Coast shares a porous 370-mile-long border with Liberia.

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