Leaders Pressure Ivory Coast President to Step Down

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- West African presidents were in the Ivory Coast of Africa on Monday hoping to resolve the disputed presidential election.

The two candidates, the incumbent Christian president Laurent Gbagbo and his Muslim opponent, Alassane Ouatarra, have both taken the oath of office. Some fear the country is on the brink of a civil war.

The United Nation's peacekeepers have stood guard outside Abidjan's Golf Hotel. They've been protecting Ouatarra, the man that the U.N. and many western nations claim is the rightfully elected president of Ivory Coast.

They said incumbent President Gbagbo must step down, but he has refused to do so. Gbagbo and his supporters have insisted acts of election fraud and intimidation were committed at the polls by armed supporters of Ouatarra.

One painting hanging on a wall at the headquarters of the Patriotic Youth Organization expresses the sentiments of many Gbagbo supporters. Like Moses, President Gbagbo is leading his people across rough seas and into the Promised Land. One of his top men, Charles Ble Goude, sounded the charge by blowing the shofar.

Goude is the charismatic Minister for Youth -- the one President Gbagbo depends on to rally those he calls "young patriots." Goude said the reports that Gbagbo supporters plan to violently storm the Golf Hotel are untrue.

"Are you able to keep a lid on some maybe angry young people, young people who may be upset at what is happening? CBN News asked Goude. "Are you able to control them?"

"Yes, they are under control," Goude responded. "I believe in the force of non-violence and I think by non-violence we can win. They have the U.N. army, they have the French army, and we have Jesus with us because we have the truth."

"And what do you think Jesus wants to see happen?" CBN News asked.

"He wants peace to be settled. He wants the decision of the people of Cote d'Ivoire to be respected," Goude answered.

Goude and Gbagbo's supporters want an international investigation to be conducted about the alleged election fraud. They said the results would validate the Ivorian Constitutional Commission's ruling that declared Gbagbo the winner.

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CBN News
Gary Lane

Gary Lane

Senior International Correspondent

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