Abidjan: Laurent Gbagbo was on Saturday formally sworn in as president of Ivory Coast, despite international rejection of his disputed re-election victory.
"In the name of the people of Ivory Coast, we recognise you as sovereign chief," said senior state official Youssouf Kone, putting the ceremonial chain of office around Gbagbo`s neck in an investiture ceremony.
"I swear solemnly and on my honour to respect and faithfully defend the constitution," said Gbagbo in his oath of office, wearing a red sash and medals, to whoops and cheers from a roomful of supporters.
Gbgagbo, who has held onto office amid instability since his term expired in 2005, swore "to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens and conscientiously fulfil the duties of my office for the greater good of the nation."
Amid rising tension Gbagbo has defied international calls to step aside despite the United Nations and several world powers recognising his rival Alassane Ouattara as the country`s new president after last Sunday`s election.
Gbagbo`s allies in the country`s high court annulled provisional election results that indicated Ouattara had won, scrapping votes in several regions in the north, Ouattara`s stronghold, because of alleged irregularities.
Ouattara`s camp accused Gbagbo of blocking these results to cling on to power. The United Nations said the election was sound overall.
Residents today said that two people were killed overnight when security forces opened fire in the main city of Abidjan during clashes between local supporters of the rival candidates.