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Ivory Coast’s Ouattara Named Presidential Vote Winner

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Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast’s electoral commission named Alassane Ouattara winner of the Nov. 28 presidential election, a ruling the Constitutional Court said was invalid after the commission missed a deadline to announce results.

Ouattara won 54.1 percent, or 2.5 million votes, while President Laurent Gbagbo received 45.9 percent, or 2.1 million, said Youssouf Bakayoko, president of the electoral commission, in a statement handed to reporters today at a hotel in Abidjan that Ouattara had been using as his campaign base. Voter turnout was 81.1 percent, Bakayoko said.

The commission “is not capable of giving the results,” Paul Yao N’Dre, president of the Constitutional Court, said in a statement broadcast on state-controlled Radiodiffusion Television Ivoirienne. Both candidates traded accusations of election-day intimidation and fraud, which N’Dre said the court wanted to investigate before proclaiming its own outcome within the next seven days.

The United Nations “welcomed the announcement of the provisional results,” according to a statement published on the UN website. Security Council President Susan Rice said the commission’s declaration is “a crucial step for ensuring the validity and integrity of the electoral process.”

The Obama administration urged all parties to respect the results of the balloting.

“Credited, accredited electoral observers have characterized the balloting as free and fair, and no party should be allowed to obstruct further the electoral process,” Mike Hammer, spokesman for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, said in a statement.

Reuniting Country

Observers from the European Union said Nov. 30 that any problems on the day of the vote were not significant enough to affect the outcome. EU mission chief Cristian Preda told journalists that the members of the constitutional court were appointed by Gbagbo. The election is meant to unite the world’s top cocoa grower, split since a 2002 military uprising between a rebel-held north and government-controlled south.

Supporters of Ouattara, the 68-year-old former prime minister, began celebrating in the streets of Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital, before a nighttime curfew that quieted the city took effect. The military also announced the closure of the country’s borders.

‘Celebrate in Peace’

“I ask all Ivorians, whether they voted for me or not, to face the challenges ahead together,” Ouattara said in an e-mailed statement. “To all those who want to express their joy in these historic times for our country, I would like to ask them to celebrate in peace and not respond to any provocation.”

The campaign was marred by violence that left several dead, including at least six people who were killed late yesterday at an Ouattara party office when unidentified gunmen entered the facility and opened fire.

“There is a very strong possibility that if things are not settled within the next couple of weeks, we could see an all-out breakout of violence,” said Oswald Felli, head of security and violent risk assessments with New York-based DaMina Advisors. Regional leaders, including Ghana’s President John Atta Mills and Burkina Faso leader Blaise Compaore, may need to “push for a unity government with Ouattara as the number one, but with Gbagbo retaining some powers,” Felli said in a telephone interview.

Cocoa for March delivery climbed $110, or 4 percent, to $2,868 by 3:55 p.m. in New York.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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