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Ouattara becomes new president of Côte d'Ivoire
Foreign leaders are gathered in Yamoussoukro, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire, for the long-delayed inauguration of Alassane Ouattara as president. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was at Saturday's ceremony, said it was important for democracy in Africa to be at the event alongside the new president.
The inauguration comes nearly six months after Ouattara won the election, but could not take office as outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat sparking a conflict that claimed almost 3,000 lives.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was also at the ceremony along with African presidents including Blaise Campaore of neighbouring Burkina Faso, Ali Bongo of Gabon and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.
Officially proclaimed president on 5 May, Ouattara took the oath of office the following day and Saturday’s ceremony in Yamoussoukro has officially been billed as a ‘rally’.
The city is the birthplace of the country’s founding father Felix Houphouet-Boigny who Ouattara served as prime minister in the early 1990s.
Ouattara took power after Gbagbo’s 11 April arrest after weeks of clashes between soldiers who remained loyal to the former head of state and Ouattara’s forces backed by UN and French troops.
Since 11 April, the world’s largest cocoa producer has slowly been pulling itself out of political and economic crisis.
The new head of state is expected to form a new government shortly and legislative elections must be held before the end of the year.