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Ivory Coast: Military option mulled as Odinga admits AU failure
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has admitted that the African Union has failed in its mediation efforts whilst Military chiefs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have met to plan possible armed intervention to depose President Gbagbo.

Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga who has served as an African Union mediator, shuttling between Ouattara and Gbagbo in an attempt to resolve the crisis Wednesday morning announced that the mediation talks have failed despite "prolonged discussions".

“The necessary twist is missing. I’m sorry, but it has not materialized, despite the prolonged discussions that I had, both with Mr Gbagbo and the President-elect, Ouattara,”

"One of the principle goals of my mission was to convince Mr. Gbagbo to accept that he needed to put his presidency on the agenda for discussions," said Odinga. 

"In addition, it was imperative that a blockade at the Golf Hotel be lifted. Mr. Gbagbo gave me an assurance that this blockade would be lifted yesterday at midday but he broke that promise for the second time in two weeks."

“With the end of Odinga’s mediation, certainly opens up some disquieting scenarios. The military option by ECOWAS cannot be ruled out (...) each Country of ECOWAS has made their troops available” a local source to the FIDES news service is quoted as saying.

"Time is running out for an amicably negotiated settlement (...) In addition, the window of opportunity for any amnesty will continue to close if Mr. Gbagbo’s supporters continue to commit crimes against civilians and peacekeepers" added the Kenyan PM.

But according to French Ambassador Jean-Marc Simon "The message remains the same: The military option is the last one that we would envision, but it is also not one that we will exclude. I am hopeful that there will be an advance before the end of the day,”

Military

Military intervention has become the next probable action against Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo who refuses to relinquish power to democratically elected opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.

Reports claiming that the next agenda on the table is a military ouster come as all efforts to peacefully oust Gbagbo continue to hit the wall, including, on the one hand, multiple visits by African leaders as well as sanctions, and on the other hand, an offer from the international community for Gbagbo to consider a graceful exit, including possible exile abroad with a monthly stipend.

"Virtually every member of ECOWAS has agreed to contribute troops. Military preparations are already well under way." Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin of Nigeria, the president of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff, told reporters.

Although the Chief Marshall failed to give further details, the military chiefs are expected to travel by special flight to Bouaké, a city in northern Ivory Coast controlled by Ouattara to conduct a scouting mission.

Experts say it would be difficult to move material and soldiers through either the commercial airport or the port, both controlled by pro-Gbagbo forces, leaving every possible military move involving moving troops and equipment to occur from the north of the country which is staunchly pro-Ouattara.

No military intervention

Meanwhile officials have met in Paris and Bamako to mull over strategies to end the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. On Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with his Burkinabe counterpart, Blaise Compaore, and an ECOWAS delegation over the Ivorian crisis. At the same time in Bamako, Mali, chiefs of staff of ECOWAS countries were examining the same case.

Blaise Compaore, who led mediation efforts in Ivory Coast ahead of the election, however, explained that military intervention to depose Laurent Gbagbo was not on the agenda, whilst insisting that he was against such a solution.

"The Heads of State of ECOWAS also agreed on the need to consider measures to restore constitutional order. But, for the time being, we do not want this (military intervention) in Côte d’Ivoire," Blaise Compaore said.

International community

The United Nations Security Council postponed a vote on a resolution to increase the nearly 10,000-strong peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast by 2,000 troops following objections from Russia.

But Bosnia’s U.N. ambassador, Ivan Barbalic, the current Security Council president, said members would vote on the resolution Wednesday.

  The U.N. has deployed 800 troops to secure the hotel in which Ouattara is barricaded, and those troops have come under increasing attack from Gbagbo’s forces.  

The internationally recognized, democratically elected Ouattara has been unable to assume the presidency because Gbagbo refuses to step down.


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