Ivory Coast's Ouattara: AU Mediation 'Last Resort'

Published on Tuesday 22nd February 2011

Alassane Ouattara, one of Ivory Coast's two rival presidents, says the latest effort to resolve the country's political crisis is a "last resort."Mr. Ouattara met Tuesday in Ivory Coast's capital Abidjan with four African presidents from a panel appointed by the African Union to settle the crisis.Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has resisted intense pressure to cede power to Mr. Ouattara, who is the U.N.-certified winner of a presidential vote in November.Mr. Ouattara told the visiting panel that previous mediators told Mr. Gbagbo he lost the election and must turn over power peacefully. Mr. Ouattara said, "Unfortunately, that has not happened."The AU leaders are expected to meet with Mr. Gbagbo while in Abidjan.Two West African leaders on the mediation team dropped out of the talks after receiving death threats.  Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore and James Victor Gbeho, president of the commission of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, canceled a trip to Ivory Coast on Monday.ECOWAS said Tuesday that the pro-Gbagbo militia group known as the Young Patriots made the threats. Mr. Gbagbo has accused President Compaore of favoring Mr. Ouattara.  The regional bloc expressed concern that four other presidents on the mediation team proceeded with the mission. They include the presidents of South Africa, Chad, Mauritania and Tanzania. ECOWAS said the situation "was not conducive for such a critical mission."AU officials say the panel of African leaders has one week to try to resolve the crisis and that the resolution will be legally binding. However, the AU has no way of enforcing any of the panel's provisions. ECOWAS has said it will use force if necessary to remove Mr. Gbagbo from power.Mr. Ouattara's supporters have called for an Egypt-style revolution to force out the incumbent president.


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