Burkina leader 'not welcome in I coast'
Abidjan - The president of Burkina Faso, named on a high-level African Union panel tasked with settling Ivory Coast's leadership crisis, is "not welcome" in this country, a top ally of strongman Laurent Gbagbo said here Tuesday.
Blaise Compaore is one of five African heads of state tasked by the AU to resolve the power struggle between Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of disputed November elections.
But Charles Ble Goude, head of the Young Patriots, a hardline group of Gbagbo loyalists, said "the patriots of Ivory Coast reject Blaise Compaore as a panel member and he is not welcome". He described the Burkina Faso leader as a "belligerent".
"His country (Burkina Faso) continues to serve as a rear base for the rebellion," Goude, known as Gbagbo's "Street General", said referring to Ivorian ex-rebels backing Ouattara.
Compaore, who previously served as mediator in the Ivorian peace process is seen as favouring a hard line toward Gbagbo, who still refuses to concede defeat in the November 28 presidential election.
AU leaders who ended a two-day summit in Addis Ababa Monday set up a panel made up of the presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, South Africa, Mauritania and Tanzania to work out an Ivorian exit strategy.
The AU panel members met for the first time on Monday to outline their strategy and are to travel to Ivory Coast at a yet undetermined date to submit binding proposals for the two rival leaders.