AU chief doubts if Gbagbo can still negotiate an exit

2011-04-05 13:34

Brussels – African Union Commission head Jean Ping expressed doubts today that Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo can negotiate an exit from an international siege, despite a loyal general’s call for a ceasefire.

“Inshallah (God-willing),” Ping said during a visit to the European Commission in Brussels when asked about Gbagbo’s chances of obtaining safe passage from the presidential residence in Abidjan, where the former strongman is holed up under attack from rival forces backed by France under a United Nations mandate.

Ping said an offer of exile had been “all but sealed” going into mediation with Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Saturday – with the blessing of internationally recognised Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, whose forces are leading the offensive on Gbagbo.

However, Gbagbo and his family were still in the Abidjan residence today “under attack” from Ouattara’s troops, according to Gbagbo’s foreign minister Alcide Djedje who has taken shelter in the French embassy after defecting.

Gbagbo general Philippe Mangou told AFP that his troops had stopped fighting and requested a ceasefire after UN and French warplanes attacked key targets yesterday.

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the current head of the African Union, today condemned foreign military intervention in Ivory Coast and Libya, saying Africa must be allowed to manage its own affairs. 

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