FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AMBASSADOR RICE: We’re headed back to the Council. We’ll keep talking about Côte d’Ivoire. We’ll do so in light of the ECOWAS communiqué that was issued, which was a very strong, very clear determination that Alassane Ouattara is the duly elected president of Côte d’Ivoire. That is, now speaking in my national capacity, very consistent with the American position. And we have reiterated in our discussions inside the Council the crucial importance of the will of the people of Côte d’Ivoire being respected. The reality, the fact, that Ouattara has been elected. He needs to be respected. And, as ECOWAS said, it is also argued that it’s incumbent on President Gbagbo to peacefully and responsibly acknowledge that result and step aside. So we’ll continue our discussions in the Council and we look forward to the opportunity to talk more about it later.
REPORTER: Is there some kind of a statement that’s as strong as ECOWAS?
AMBASSADOR RICE: We have different views inside the Council, as you may well be aware. So we’re going to, we’ll work on that.
REPORTER: What about Russia?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well I think you heard from Russia. They can speak for themselves.
REPORTER: They, they said that what the UN Security Council, you know, intervening in an election or calling an election, the Security Council in general and Mr. Choi in particular, is exceeding their mandate. What’s the response to that?
AMBASSADOR RICE: The response is that this is a unique situation, in which, in 2005, the signatories to the Abuja Accord asked for the United Nations to play a central role in every aspect of the electoral process. The Security Council has passed two resolutions making very clear that the United Nations and the special representative have a unique role, in this instance, in certifying the electoral process at every stage. And no other member of the Council has suggested, or believes that SRSG Choi or the United Nations have done anything other than completely consistent with its mandate. And I don’t know why Russia is quibbling with resolutions that it, itself, voted for.
It’s very straightforward if you read them – 1933 and 1765 – what they say. So this is fully consistent. SRSG Choi is not picking a winner. He’s 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.
So I can’t speak for that.
REPORTER: Russia criticized what you said, what you said about the Ivorian diplomats, saying that they don’t, their presence doesn’t necessarily mean that they are, represent the country. What do you say to Russia that said it’s asking for some correction?
AMBASSADOR RICE: You say to Russia that what I said was completely neutral and non-judgmental. It was to preserve the neutrality of the Council so that it wasn’t construed one way or the other as endorsing or refuting the election results. Simply to keep us clean on that point.
And it’s, you know, he’s welcome to object in his national capacity and raise a point of order. Nobody else did. I think it was a plain statement of what is right.
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