AU mediator arrives in Ivory Coast
Abidjan - The chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, arrived in Abidjan on Friday to try to mediate in the violent power battle triggered by last month's Ivory Coast election, officials said.
Ping headed directly from the airport to the downtown Plateau district, base of the government loyal to the incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, one of two men to have claimed victory in last month's presidential election.
Afterwards he was to head to the Golf Hotel, a luxury resort on Abidjan's lagoon, where the other presidential challenger Alassane Ouattara is holed up, protected by an 800-strong force of United Nations peacekeepers.
The international community - including the African Union and the United Nations Security Council - has recognised Ouattara as president, but Gbagbo continues to control the armed forces and offices of state.
Bloody clashes erupted on Thursday when Ouattara's supporters attempted to march on state television, leaving between 11 and 30 people dead according to rival estimates, and pushing the country to the brink of civil war.