Per the wire feed carried by the New York Times, Cote d’Ivoire’s Conseil Constitutionnel has just overturned the election commission’s conclusion that the opposition candidate won the country’s presidential election, and has instead handed victory to the incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo. The Times article notes that the election results reported by the election commission had been found credible by the African Union and the United Nations. Indeed, the U.N. Secretary-General’s special representative in Cote d’Ivoire has denounced the Conseil Constitutionnel’s actions in this case.
According to both the Prime Minister’s official webpage (in French) and French Wikipedia, the Conseil Constitutionnel is supposed to consist of a President, two Vice-Presidents, and six councillors, ***all appointed by the President***. In addition, former Presidents (of the country, not the constitutional council) are life members. Its mandate includes ensuring the regularity of elections and referenda.
It is not difficult to understand why a president might want a judicial body consisting almost entirely of his own appointees to decide whether he has won re-election, or why such a body might take liberties with the actual election results. The Conseil Constitutionnel does not seem to be contributing much in the way of checks and balances, it would seem.