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ALASSANE QUATTARA INAUGURATED AS IVORY COAST NEW PRESIDENT


YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast - President Alassane Ouattara was inaugurated Saturday as Ivory Coast's president in the stately ceremony he should have enjoyed six months ago, but was prevented from holding by the entrenched ruler who refused to accept his election defeat and nearly dragged the nation into civil war in a bid to stay in power.
  • In an effort to stop Ouattara from assuming office, outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo deployed the army to block the roads leading to the hotel which had served as Ouattara's campaign headquarters in the weeks before last year's election.
  • Imprisoned inside, Ouattara was forced to take the oath of office in the hotel lobby at a ceremony attended only by his closest aides.
  • By contrast, the lavish ceremony on Saturday was attended by some 20 heads of state in a show of international support for the democratically elected leader. Ouattara used the occasion to underscore his legitimacy and the return to constitutional order, but also to reach out to the half of the country that had voted for his opponent. Hundreds of people were killed in the political standoff that climaxed in a bloody showdown in the country's largest city, Abidjan.
  • Tens of thousands of Ouattara's supporters flooded the normally quiet city overnight, most of them sleeping on the sidewalk for a chance to glimpse the event. Women wore dresses made out of fabric printed with portraits of the 69-year-old Ouattara, while groups of men donned lion masks, symbolizing Ouattara's strength.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived by special flight from Paris, and a United Nations helicopter ferried Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the event. Both were greeted with cries thanks from the crowd at the ceremony's venue, acknowledging the key military assistance given by France and the U.N. to oust Gbagbo.
Source: The China Post
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