ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council ratified on Thursday the results of a presidential election showing that Alassane Ouattara won, reversing an earlier decision to reject them.
The court’s initial rejection of electoral commission results from the November 2010 poll sparked a more than 4-month power struggle between Ouattara and incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo that killed thousands and displaced more than a million.
Constitutional Council President Paul Yao N‘Dre said the top legal body now accepted Ouattara won the election.
“The Constitutional Council ... proclaims Alassane Ouattara President, takes note of decisions made by (him) and declares them all valid,” N‘Dre announced to reporters in Abidjan.
“The Constitutional Council invites the President Alassane Ouattara to take an oath in front of an official audience as soon as possible. All decisions contrary to this one are null and void,” he added, referring to his previous proclamation of Gbagbo as winner.
N‘Dre, a staunch Gbagbo ally, had rejected electoral commission results showing Ouattara won with an 8-point margin, upholding Gbagbo’s complaint that the vote was unfair.
The court canceled more than half a million votes in Ouattara strongholds to declare Gbagbo winner in December, prompting almost universal condemnation from world powers, African leaders and the United Nations.
The resulting bloody power struggle between them was only resolved when Ouattara’s forces captured Gbagbo last month.
Gbagbo, who remains in captivity in the pro-Ouattara north awaiting trial for alleged crimes during the turmoil, last week called for his supporters to put aside their political squabbles and help restore the economy.
N‘Dre later met Ouattara at his temporary base in a lagoon-side hotel. Afterwards he said Ouattara would take the presidential oath in front of the council on Friday. He declined to comment on whether his first decision to swear in Gbagbo had been wrong.
“This is about peace in Ivory Coast. The sons and daughters of the country must find each other again, must talk together ... so that peace can come back and Ivory Coast pursue its development,” N‘Dre said. “We have faith that this objective can be achieved.”
A spokesman for the Ivorian military said on Thursday Ivorian troops had captured a naval base in Abidjan from remnants of a militia loyal to Gbagbo, leaving them with no base from which to launch attacks.
But many were still at large in the main commercial city.
Dozens of people have died in clashes in the past few days, highlighting the problems that Ouattara faces in restoring security after a bitter civil war.
“Since yesterday the naval base at Locodjoro, where the (pro-Gbagbo) militiamen and Liberian mercenaries were based, is under our control, but there is still some clearing up to do,” Ivorian military spokesman Leon Alla Kouakou said by telephone.
“There are no more pockets of resistance, as such, but some militiamen and mercenaries are still there,” he added, referring to Liberian guns for hire that Ouattara’s government says make up most of the remaining resistance to him.
Banks have re-opened, traffic is returning to normal and the world’s top cocoa grower is expected to resume on Friday exports of cocoa beans that were halted by the conflict.
United Nations mission spokesman Hamadoun Toure told a news conference on Thursday that its peacekeeping forces were carrying out mixed patrols with Ouattara’s forces to boost security and defuse unexploded bombs left over from the conflict.
Switzerland said it had frozen 70 million Swiss francs ($81.45 million) linked to Gbagbo and associates.
Writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Richard Valdmanis and Mark Trevelyan