The UN Security Council has backed opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the winner of Cote d'Ivoire's presidential election last month.
The statement came after three days of debate at the United Nations, with Russia arguing that by endorsing the election result, the UN would be exceeding its mandate.
Despite international pressure, incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down following the November 28 election. The standoff has sparked violent protests and led the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to suspend Cote d'Ivoire.
In its statement approved late on December 8, the Security Council cited ECOWAS's recognition of Ouattara as president-elect, implying that ECOWAS, rather than the United Nations, had made the ruling.
"The members of the Security Council call on all stakeholders to respect the outcome of the election," said U. S. envoy Brooke Anderson, the current president of the Security Council. "The members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest possible terms any effort to subvert the popular will of the people or undermine either the integrity of the electoral process or the free and fair elections in Cote d'Ivoire."
The 15-member council also warned it could impose sanctions against anyone trying to threaten the peace deal that followed a 2002-03 civil war or obstruct UN operations in Cote d'Ivoire.
compiled from agency reports