Ghana offers to help I Coast
Accra - Ghana, Africa's touted model of democracy, is offering to help Ivory Coast organise its delayed elections, President John Atta-Mills said on Wednesday after talks with his Ivorian counterpart.
The Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo is in neighbouring Ghana for a two-day official visit ending on Wednesday, which observers say is an attempt to lobby regional leaders to lend weight to yet another vote delay.
"Ghana is ready to support the Ivorian government in its election this year," Atta-Mills was quoted as saying in a statement read by foreign minister Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni.
"We have a lot of experience to share with Cote d'Ivoire in this direction," added Atta-Mills who was elected in a cliff-hanger vote last December.
In the latest of a string of postponements, Gbagbo last week said the long-awaited presidential elections scheduled for November 29 would be delayed, blaming problems with the voters' registers.
No new date has been fixed but the Ivorian leader raised the possibility of problems being overcome by mid-December, after which a vote would take place.
Example of democracy
"We will closely monitor the elections and offer our support where necessary," said the Ghanaian leader.
Atta-Mills won Ghana's polls in a second round narrowly beating his opponent, then the ruling party's candidate, by less than half a percentage point in what was widely lauded as an example of democracy on the continent.
Gbagbo's mandate ran out in 2005 while Ivory Coast was divided between the government-held south and the north, held by the rebel New Forces, who had tried to oust him in a September 2002 coup.
He came to power in 2000 and has made peace with the New Forces, headed by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, but he still only presides over half of the cocoa-rich nation. The rest remains in the hands of the former rebels.
The world's top two cocoa producers pledged to beef up their output.
"Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire are no doubt the leading producers of cocoa in the world and it is a step in the right direction to share our experiences together in order to improve cocoa production in the two countries," Gbagbo said, according to the statement.