News24

Gbagbo playing for time - Ouattara camp

2011-01-04 22:30

Abuja - Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo has agreed to negotiate a resolution without preconditions to the crisis gripping his country and lift a siege on his rival's headquarters, mediators said on Tuesday.

But an aide to Alassane Ouatarra, the man the world says won November's election, accused Gbagbo of playing for time and insisted the embattled leader step down to end the five-week stand-off in which almost 200 people have died.

"All we're waiting for is for him to go," Ouattara aide Ali Coulibaly told AFP. "The rest is of no interest to us."

"Gbagbo is trying to put people's consciences to sleep. His word has no importance of any kind. What does a peaceful solution mean? We want Gbagbo to go, that's all," Coulibaly said.

A day after intensive talks with both Gbagbo and Ouatarra, a group of African leaders said the embattled incumbent had promised that the dispute would be settled peacefully.

"Mr Laurent Gbagbo agreed to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis without any preconditions," the African Union and Ecowas mediators said in a joint statement.

"He (Gbagbo) also pledged to immediately lift the blockade around Hotel du Golf, the temporary HQ of Mr Alassane Ouattara, the president-elect," it said.

No power sharing

Ecowas stressed that military intervention in Ivory Coast was still an option if talks failed to end the impasse, while the African Union envoy, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, excluded any kind of power-sharing deal.

"A military option is still on the cards," the regional commission's chief James Victor Gbeho said.

"It is without doubt that the Ecowas position is that if there is no joy in exploiting the peaceful situation then the military objective can also be considered as a tool for sustainable resolution of the crisis," Gbeho said.

West African regional military chiefs met in Abuja last week and set in motion plans to oust Gbagbo if negotiations fail, according to a Nigerian defence spokesperson.

A follow-up meeting to fine-tune the "last-resort" plan is scheduled for January 17 and 18 in Mali.

Odinga, who himself became premier as part of a power-sharing agreement after a disputed December 2007 presidential election that sparked deadly riots, said power-sharing would not be possible.

Odinga has repeatedly complained that he and his party got the rough end of the stick in the agreement.

"I did tell him (Gbagbo) that that option is not available here. The Kenyan solution is not really a solution at all. If followed, it will actually hamper the democratisation process on the continent," he told journalists.

Takes time

Ouattara has been blockaded by Gbagbo's forces at an Abidjan resort hotel throughout the five-week crisis, protected by UN troops and allied former rebel fighters from the north of the formerly divided country.

Coulibaly said that "the situation is the same" around the Golf Hotel despite the reported pledge of an immediate lifting of the blockade.

Nigeria's president, who also heads the Ecowas regional bloc, said earlier that the crisis was deadlocked and the current head of the African Union voiced dismay over the slow pace of negotiations.

"There is still a stalemate," President Goodluck Jonathan told reporters after talks with the envoys.

"Don't expect that if there is a major crisis in a country, you just jump in in one week and that matter is resolved. It takes a lot of international pressure to convince people like that," Jonathan said.

International condemnation

With the clock ticking, a senior US state department official said that Gbagbo, who has relatives in Atlanta, Georgia, could seek refuge there but that the offer would not last long.

Ivory Coast's Independent Electoral Commission as well as the UN declared Ouattara the winner of the November 28 runoff poll, while the Constitutional Council said that Gbagbo won.

Both men have been sworn in as president and Gbagbo claims there is an international plot to depose him after more than a decade in power.

Gbagbo, who retains control of the army, rejected the Ecowas attempt last week to persuade him to step down and end the crisis that has sparked international condemnation and fears of a civil war.

The UN says that at least 179 people have been killed in post-election violence but that it has been unable to fully investigate because of attacks on its personnel, while UN rapporteurs said they feared the violations being committed amounted to "crimes against humanity".

Comments
  • 1concerned - 2011-01-05 01:13

    I have heard actually that the BBC and UN coverage of this whole event has not been entirely. What I heard was that the way the elections were run were in themselves illegal and hence the results not valid. Apparently the neighbouring nations to ivory coast are islamic and they have been exerting their influence to islamify ivory coast through various tactics including backing Ouattara Before the elections terrorist muslims groups in the North were supposed to have handed over arms but this never happened. I have heard that Gbagbo who is refusing to step down feels the election were unfair hence can’t be honoured. He is concerned that If the Muslim canidate Ouattara was to rule the consequences for non muslims could be very serious indeed. This fact is demonstrated in the persecution non muslims face in countries governed by islamic principals such Saudi Arabia. Obviously if this version of events is true it is rather concerning to find masked gun men firing on UN troops and surely Gbagbo could do better than ordering UN peace keepers out of the nation. Also what of the talk of mass graves and other abuses? But then are we really hearing the full story or only judging things on face value? It's easy to vilfy a "tirent" who won’t step down but what if he is concerned about the lives of eveyone in ovory coast who does not want to convert to islam not only his own. What’s going on BBC? What is this side of the story and is there more to Gbagbo than meets the eye?

  • 1concerned - 2011-01-05 01:14

    I have heard actually that the BBC and UN coverage of this whole event has not been entirely. What I heard was that the way the elections were run were in themselves illegal and hence the results not valid. Apparently the neighbouring nations to ivory coast are islamic and they have been exerting their influence to islamify ivory coast through various tactics including backing Ouattara Before the elections terrorist muslims groups in the North were supposed to have handed over arms but this never happened. I have heard that Gbagbo who is refusing to step down feels the election were unfair hence can’t be honoured. He is concerned that If the Muslim canidate Ouattara was to rule the consequences for non muslims could be very serious indeed. This fact is demonstrated in the persecution non muslims face in countries governed by islamic principals such Saudi Arabia. Obviously if this version of events is true it is rather concerning to find masked gun men firing on UN troops and surely Gbagbo could do better than ordering UN peace keepers out of the nation. Also what of the talk of mass graves and other abuses? But then are we really hearing the full story or only judging things on face value? It's easy to vilfy a "tirent" who won’t step down but what if he is concerned about the lives of eveyone in ovory coast who does not want to convert to islam not only his own. What’s going on BBC? What is this side of the story and is there more to Gbagbo than meets the eye?

  • Siaka - 2011-01-07 21:43

    Dear concerned, Most of what you heard is quite true except for the religious issue. Ouattara has been like a sort of cancer that Ivory coast has been fighting since 1990. The religious issue you mention is a making of this man. It may come true if we don’t pay attention, but it has no relation with the present electoral dispute. Now about the conditions (Before). Where on hearth are elections held in a country where rebels are armed and controlling 60% of the territory? Gbagbo was accused of refusing elections when he starting denouncing this fact in 2005. (During) For what they saw and tried to stop in the north, African union observers were threatened and some held hostages. There are precise testimonies of 17 European Union observers who were in danger, they had to call a security company, which they have not fully paid yet. These are facts. Now they have buried all these irregularities and pretend elections were fair and democratic. (After) The electoral committee could not agree on vote statements because of irregularities noticed, so it was decided to leave everything to the verdict of the Supreme Court, when out of the blue we heard some results. And it is based on this result that they want the President to resign…

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