By Scott Stearns
Ivory Coast is in political crisis with both of its presidential candidates taking rival oaths of office based on competing election results. The African Union is sending former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to Ivory Coast Sunday in hopes of resolving the dispute.
The African Union says Mr. Mbeki’s emergency mission is meant to find a legitimate and peaceful solution to the crisis.
Laurent Gbagbo took an oath of office Saturday on the basis of the constitutional council awarding him 51 percent of the vote after annulling as fraudulent nearly ten percent of all ballots cast.
Alassane Ouattara took an oath of office Saturday on the basis of the electoral commission awarding him 54 percent of the vote. Those results were certified by the United Nations in keeping with a 2007 peace deal.
Senior military officers who control southern regions back Mr. Gbagbo. Former rebels who still control most northern regions back Mr. Ouattara.
Mr. Ouattara’s claim to the presidency is also supported by Burkina Faso, Nigeria, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union.
Mr. Gbagbo says those pronouncements of support for Mr. Ouattara are terrible cases of foreign interference that threaten Ivory Coast’s sovereignty.
Mr. Gbagbo’s resistance to outside opinion may complicate Mr. Mbeki’s mission as the African Union too has recognized electoral commission results that say Mr. Gbabgo lost. In a written statement, the African Union warned against undermining the electoral process and the will of the people, saying that could lead to a “crisis of incalculable consequences.”