Russia 'quibbling' over UN I.Coast statement: envoy

7th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The US ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday accused Russia of "quibbling" over a blocked UN Security Council statement on the Ivory Coast political crisis.

Russia held up a council statement saying the United Nations had exceeded its mandate by calling opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the Ivory Coast election winner over incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, diplomats said.

US ambassador Susan Rice insisted the United Nations had acted entirely within its Security Council mandate. "I don't know why Russia is quibbling with resolutions that it, itself, voted for," she told reporters during a break in the tense negotiations.

Russia also objected to a statement made by Rice during a Security Council meeting on Tuesday that the presence of the Ivory Coast ambassador named by Gbagbo did not imply recognition of his government, diplomats said.

The United States holds the presidency of the Security Council for December and Rice chaired the meeting. Rice said she acted to "preserve the neutrality of the council."

UN special envoy to Ivory Coast, Choi Young-jin, reaffirmed to the Security Council on Tuesday that he considered Ouattara to be the winner of the landmark post-civil war election by "a clear margin".

The United States, European Union, African Union and most neighboring states have all called for Gbagbo to stand down.

Gbagbo has refused to accept the results though. The Constitutional Court, which he controls, declared the official results void and Gbagbo was sworn in as president at the weekend.

Rice said the United States highlighted in Security Council discussions "the crucial importance of the will of the people of (Ivory Coast) being respected, the reality of the fact that Ouattara has been elected needs to be respected."

"We have different views inside the council as you may well be aware," she said. "I think you heard from Russia, they can speak for themselves."

Rice called Ivory Coast a "unique situation" for the United Nations.

Under a 2005 accord made between the two sides in Ivory Coast's 2002 civil war, the United Nations was to play a central role in the electoral process. The Security Council passed two resolutions setting out the role, including certifying the electoral process and results.

Rice said the UN envoy "is not picking the winner. He is simply certifying the results of the Independent Electoral Commission. He does so with the benefit of all 20,000 tally sheets that put in black and white the facts of the election."

© 2010 AFP

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