* African Union, world leaders believe Ouattara won election
* Gbagbo defies criticism at home and from abroad
* Top cocoa producer faces period of uncertainty, isolation
(Adds details, IMF comment)
By Tim Cocks and Loucoumane Coulibaly
ABIDJAN, Dec 4 Laurent Gbagbo was sworn in as
Ivory Coast president on Saturday after his proclaimed election
victory was rejected by world leaders and his rival, but
accepted by the army, raising the risk of a long power struggle.
Meanwhile, Alassane Ouattara, named winner of the vote by
the election commission before the result was reversed on Friday
by the top Ivorian legal body, submitted a written oath and took
the first steps towards setting up a parallel government.
Gbagbo has presided over the world's top cocoa-producing
nation for a decade, but now faces international isolation and
possible sanctions after its Constitutional Council, headed by
an ally of Gbagbo, cancelled hundreds of thousands of votes in
Ouattara strongholds, alleging intimidation by northern rebels.
The U.N. envoy, Y.J. Choi, who received copies of the count
from almost every polling station, said that even if all the
allegations of fraud were true, they still could not have
changed the result announced by the election commission.
The vote was meant to heal the wounds of a 2002-03 civil war
that split the once-vibrant nation in two. But the process has
instead reopened them, leaving at least 15 dead in vote-related
violence in the last 10 days and rebel forces on alert.
Ouattara's party has warned that denying him victory would
risk throwing the country back into north-south conflict. A
spokesman for the New Forces rebels said on Saturday that they
would "not rest long without doing anything" to stop Gbagbo.
Gbagbo's swearing-in was broadcast live on state television,
a day after the head of the armed forces declared his continued
allegiance to the incumbent. His win was rejected by France, the
United States, United Nations, African Union and West African
bloc ECOWAS. Most diplomats boycotted the ceremony.
"I will continue to work with all the countries of the
world, but I will never give up our sovereignty," Gbagbo said to
cheers and the sound of vuvuzelas after the ceremony.
The International Monetary Fund said it could not recognise
Gbagbo's presidency unless the United Nations did -- a factor
that could dash hopes for relief of some $3 billion in debt
under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries programme.
The African Union said earlier it would also take steps
against those who tried to undermine the vote result as
announced by the electoral commission in favour of Ouattara.
For more stories on the election, click [ID:nCOC062729]
In rejecting the outcome, rival Ouattara has been backed by
rebels still running the north of the country after a 2002-03
civil war, and by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, a former rebel
himself, who handed in his resignation to Ouattara.
After Gbagbo was sworn in, Ouattara also said he was
president, having submitted a written oath to the Constitutional
Council, and called on Soro to name a new government.
U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas
Sarkozy led calls for Gbagbo to hand over power. In an unusually
strong endorsement U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the
world body supported results showing a Ouattara win.
The United Nations is required to sign off on an election
victor in Ivory Coast, according to a 2007 peace deal.
Gbagbo, a master at whipping up sentiment against former
colonial power France, was openly scornful of the rejections and
his camp threatened to expel the U.N. envoy in Ivory Coast.
"I've noted some serious cases of interference," Gbagbo
said. "We didn't ask anyone to come and run our country. Our
sovereignty is something I am going to defend."
Small-scale protests and tyre-burning broke out on Saturday
in several towns, including Abidjan and in Bouake in the north.
"We want (Ouattara) as president. We don't want Gbagbo any
more. We are tired of him," said Bouake resident Samba Diakite.
The AU said it would send former South African president
Thabo Mbeki to try to seek a solution to the crisis.
The crisis in Ivory Coast, once West Africa's brightest
economic star, pushed futures prices up 2.41 percent on Friday
LCCc1, and forced up the risk premium on Ivory Coast's $2.3
billion Eurobond CI049648839=. It yielded 11.67 percent, from
below 10 percent after the first election round.
The regional body ECOWAS, led by economic powerhouse
Nigeria, also supported Ouattara's victory.
But diplomats in New York said Russia, whose Lukoil
(LKOHyq.L) has an exploration block in Ivory Coast, had blocked
the U.N. Security Council from also doing so.
The lack of Security Council consensus on the U.N. position
could encourage Gbagbo to ignore outside pressure.
(Additional reporting by Ange Aboa in Bouake; Additional
reporting and writing by David Lewis and Richard Valdmanis;
editing by Mark Heinrich)