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Ivory Coast Suspended From Regional Bloc Amid Crisis

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast has been suspended from West Africa’s regional bloc amid a post-election crisis that has seen two men take presidential oaths and appoint government ministers.

The Economic Community of West African States supports Alassane Ouattara, a former prime minister of Ivory Coast who was named winner of the Nov. 28 vote by the country’s electoral commission with 54.1 percent, said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is also chairman of the group.

“Elections have been held and somebody has won, so he has to take over,” Jonathan told reporters after a meeting of West African heads of state in Abuja today. “The votes of the people must count.”

Ouattara’s win was overturned by Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council Dec. 3, which annulled votes in the country’s north over claims of irregularities and named incumbent Laurent Gbagbo as winner. The following day, Gbagbo and Ouattara both took presidential oaths of office and this week, have each appointed government ministers to separate administrations. Ouattara’s presidency claim is also supported by the United Nations, the European Union, the U.S. and France.

Jonathan rejected the prospect of a unity government involving both Gbagbo and Ouattara as a possible method to settle the impasse.

A unity government “doesn’t really work,” he said. “You only encourage people not to do what’s right.”

The election was meant to unify Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower, which has been split into a government-controlled south and rebel-held north since a military uprising in 2002. Cocoa for March delivery gained $57, or 1.9 percent, to $3,122 a metric ton at 10:16 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Okolo in Abuja at pokolo@bloomberg.net

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

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