Calls Mount for Release of Ivory Coast Vote Results

Calls on Ivory Coast’s election commission to release results from this week’s presidential runoff mounted, a day after a member of the body halted an announcement of the partial count.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “urges the Independent Electoral Commission to announce the provisional results of the second round of the presidential election without delay, today,” according to a statement published on the UN’s website. The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for the release of the results “by this evening in accordance with the agreed schedule,” in an e-mailed statement.

Opposition leader Alassane Ouattara said the lack of results left the country in a “state of uncertainty,” according to a statement given in Abidjan and confirmed by his spokeswoman, Massere Toure.

Ouattara, a former prime minister, is contesting incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to lead the world’s top cocoa grower. The election is meant to be a key step in uniting the nation, which was left split between a rebel-held north and government-controlled south after a 2002 uprising.

‘Great Concern’

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said it is “essential” that the commission release results by the deadline of tonight, three days after the ballot, according to a statement on his website. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the delay “causes us great concern,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur. On Nov. 29, the commission released results from Ivorians who voted overseas, which showed Ouattara leading with 60 percent, and Gbagbo obtaining 40 percent.

A press conference held by Bamba Yacouba, a spokesman for the commission, was thrown into disarray yesterday when another member of the commission halted the event, saying the results about to be released for three regions were not valid.

Yacouba refuted the claim made by Tokpa Behi Etienne, saying the votes had been confirmed. The commission was due to begin releasing results again today in Abidjan, though most journalists were prevented from entering the agency’s headquarters. A night time curfew was extended to Dec. 5, according to a statement read on state-owned broadcaster Radiodiffusion Television Ivoirienne. If results aren’t released by midnight they will be confirmed or otherwise by the Constitutional Council, according to Agence France-Presse, which said the council is headed by an ally of Gbagbo.

Cocoa deliveries have been slowed by the political unrest, Minnetonka, Minnesota-based Cargill Inc.’s spokesman Mark Klein said today. The price of beans for December delivery declined $46, or 1.7 percent, to $2,726 as of 4:30 p.m. in New York.

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