3rd December, 2010
Ivory Coast has closed its land, sea and air borders until further notice and ordered foreign television news stations to be blocked amid turmoil over its contested presidential election.
â€œThe land, air and sea borders are closed to all movement of people and goods from this Thursday at 8pm (0700 AEDT Friday) until further notice,â€ the army said in a statement on state television.
A separate statement said authorities would jam foreign television and radio signals.
The state audiovisual authority said it had ordered â€œthe immediate suspension of all foreign news channelsâ€ carried by the Canal+ Horizon network, which provides all the foreign channels available in Ivory Coast.
The electoral commission earlier announced that provisional results showed opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara, had beaten President Laurent Gbagbo in the disputed polls.
The head of the countryâ€™s Constitutional Council and aÂ top Gbagbo ally, Paul Yao Nâ€™Dre, promptly rejected the results as invalid on the grounds that the commission had overrun the legal deadline for releasing them.
Bloodshed erupted ahead of the announcement when security forces shot dead eight people at a local headquarters of Ouattaraâ€™s RDR party in a largely pro-Gbagbo district of Abidjan, witnesses said.
Ouattara called on his â€˜brotherâ€™ Gbagbo to accept the result, promising to form a unity government and â€˜bring together the nation in the values of peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and union.â€™
Gbagboâ€™s supporters had prevented the commission from announcing the outcome from Sundayâ€™s runoff, saying tallies from at least four of the countryâ€™s 19 regions should be cancelled because of irregularities.
On Thursday,Â officials loyal to Gbagbo grabbed the results from a spokesman for the commission and tore them up as he read them in front of the television camera.
Youssouf Bakayoko, the head of the election commission, said that Ouattara won with 54.1 percent of the vote, compared to 45.9 percent for Gbagbo.
In a news conference immediately after the announcement of his victory, the 68-year-old Ouattara called on his opponent to respect the outcome.
â€œI remind my brother Laurent Gbagbo of our mutual engagement to respect the results proclaimed by the independent electoral commission,â€ he said.
â€œIâ€™m proud of my country which has resolutely chosen democracy today and I hope this leads to a durable peace in Ivory Coast.â€
The election was the first in 10 years following a brief 2002-2003 civil war that destroyed the economy of the worldâ€™s top cocoa producer and sent foreign investors and the nationâ€™s large expatriate community packing.
The country was divided into two, with Gbagbo ruling the government-controlled south while the north, where Ouattara comes from, remained in rebel hands.
Gbagbo, whose five-year mandate officially expired in 2005, has stayed in office while claiming elections were impossible because of instability.