The two candidates in Ivory Coast's disputed presidential election took dueling oaths of office today after each claimed victory, renewing unrest in this country once split in two by civil war. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo defied calls from the US, France, and the UN to concede defeat, wrapping himself in the Ivorian flag as he was sworn in for another term. Hours later, opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara announced that he, too, had taken his own oath.
"The risk of violence between supporters of the two parties, as well as repression by Ivorian security forces against real or perceived supporters of Ouattara, is very high," said a Human Rights Watch statement. The bitter irony is that Ivory Coast's long-awaited presidential election was meant to restore stability in what was once one of the most affluent countries in Africa.