Odinga to lead AU efforts in Ivory Coast
Addis Ababa - The African Union has asked Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga to lead its efforts in resolving the political crisis in Ivory Coast, a statement said Monday.
The AU Commission chief Jean Ping said he had asked Odinga to "lead the monitoring of the situation in Ivory Coast and bolster the efforts being undertaken" to end the turmoil.
Odinga, who was named Kenya's prime minister in 2008 in a coalition government set up to end weeks of political unrest, recently called for the forceful removal of Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo, who is tussling with rival Alassane Ouattara over the country's leadership.
Gbagbo and Ouattara have both declared themselves president following November's election run-off.
The west African state's electoral body had announced that Ouattara had beaten the incumbent, but Gbagbo rejected the results and had himself sworn in, despite broad international support for his opponent.
Ping also voiced support for the West African bloc Ecowas's decision to send the presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde to Abidjan to ask Gbagbo to quit.
Gbagbo has come under increasing international pressure to relinquish power, but has yet to give in.
The 53-member AU suspended Ivory Coast on December 6 because of his refusal to stand down.