Ouattara makes final offer to Gbagbo

2011-03-16 07:01

Abidjan – Ivory Coast’s democratically elected leader extended an olive branch to the country’s former president who is refusing to cede power, offering him a national unity government, a fusion of their armed forces and a truth and reconciliation commission in a last-ditch effort to avoid civil war.

Alassane Ouattara made the offer yesterday during a televised address, broadcast from the hotel where he has been confined since the November election, his exits sealed by soldiers loyal to the ex-president.

His offer is “the last chance for a peaceful and honourable resolution” to the crisis, Ouattara said.

Ouattara, who has already been recognised by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, was certified as the legitimate president by an African Union panel last week, a decision immediately rejected by incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who maintains that he won the election.

“The debate over the presidential election is over,” Ouattara said. “It is time to build our country and reconcile all Ivorians.”

The offer came as troops loyal to Gbagbo were accused of committing war crimes by the New York-based rights group, Human Rights Watch, which said that the abuses are grave enough to warrant the intervention of the United Nations Security Council.

“The targeted killings, enforced disappearances, politically motivated rapes, and persecution of West African nationals over a three-month period demonstrate a policy of systematic violence by security forces under the control of Gbagbo and militias long loyal to him,” said the report, released yesterday.

The group echoed UN warnings to Gbagbo that evidence of these crimes is being collected for a future war crimes trial.

But the group also said that as forces loyal to Ouattara have begun to fight back in recent weeks, there have been reports of revenge killings by those troops, muddying the moral high ground of Ouattara’s victory.

Yesterday, reports emerged of pro-Ouattara fighters advancing into a downtown neighbourhood of the commercial capital Abidjan for the first time.

Local radio reported that four pro-Gbagbo youth were killed in an attack on their barricade in the upscale II Plateaux district.

Advisers to Ouattara say his address to the nation is meant to be a final appeal to Gbagbo to leave peacefully.

His concessions mirror the proposal put forward by the African Union last week, which called on Ouattara to appoint members of Gbagbo’s political party to a unity government, an idea Ouattara has said he has embraced since the campaign ahead of last year’s vote.

The AU has appointed a high-level mediator who has been given a deadline of two weeks to try to implement the AU decision, which calls on the country’s highest court to swear in Ouattara as president.

An armed group loyal to Ouattara has already taken control of the northern section of the commercial capital, as well as several towns in the country’s far West.

The rebels claim they have vowed to fight their way to the presidential palace if Gbagbo refuses to go.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.