Côte d’Ivoire: No light at the end of the tunnel

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Côte d’Ivoire’s political situation remains deadlocked. African Union and ECOWAS mediators left the West African country on Monday without success. Whilst Alassane Ouattara insists that the dialogue is over, Laurent Gbagbo has called for a recount of the November 28 presidential election votes amid growing tensions in the Western African country. Ecowas has promised to take further actions.

Mediators from the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS left Abidjan Monday night without resolving the Ivorian crisis amid reports of a resurgence of ethnic clashes in the west of the country. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, AU mediator, and President Boni Yayi (Benin), Ernest Koroma (Sierra Leone) and Pedro Pires (Cape Verde), who represented the ECOWAS, met Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the two announced presidents of the November 28 presidential election, on Monday as promised. By evening, they had not still not accomplished their mission to convince incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to step down. “At this stage we can only say that discussions are ongoing,” Ernest Koroma suggested Monday night, after the second meeting of the day with Laurent Gbagbo.

The African Union and ECOWAS emissaries Tuesday met the current chair of the Community and Head of State of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, in Abuja, Nigeria, to brief him on their mission. Goodluck Jonathan later told reporters that the Ivorian crisis was still “deadlocked.” ECOWAS had threatened military intervention if a diplomatic approach failed. Last week, Goodluck Jonathan had promised further actions after Tuesday’s meetings.

No more dialogue according to Alassane Ouattara

For Alassane Ouattara, “the dialogue is over”. The man whom the regional and international communities consider as the real winner of the presidential election has called on Laurent Gbagbo “step down”. His has camp also rejected an information that was relaid by Raila Odinga Tuesday. The Kenyan PM had announced that Mr. Ouattara was prepared to meet his opponent “under certain conditions”.

“It is totally false. The proposal was made by Odinga and we totally rejected it” said Ali Coulibaly, a diplomatic adviser of Alassane Ouattara. Commenting on the second visit of AU and ECOWAS mediators from the Hotel du Golf, where he is holed up alongside his boss under the protection of UN peacekeepers, Guillaume Soro, Prime Minister in Ouattara’s government said this was “the final chance for M. Gbagbo to obtain a peaceful transfer of power and a guarantee of immunity.”

On their side, the World Bank and the Central Bank of West Africa have canceled Laurent Gbagbo’s signature. The financial pressure adds to a travel embargo imposed by the United States and the European Union on his family and cronies. To facilitate the mediation process, however, Washington was ready to “consider” granting exile to Laurent Gbagbo, on request. An offer that has elicited no comment from the person concerned.

Laurent Gbagbo wants a recount

Laurent Gbagbo remains inflexible. “We will not give up,” he said as he gave his New Year’s day wishes. Saturday, he again demanded the departure of UNOCI, composed of 9,000 men. He accused them – a statement contradicted by UNOCI, – of having fired on civilians; referring to an incident Wednesday involving Peacekeepers in Abobo (north of Abidjan).

After unsuccessfully demanding the establishment of an international “evaluation committee” on the post-election crisis, Laurent Gbagbo now wants a recount of the November 28 presidential votes. He made the request through two French lawyers, Jacques Verges and Roland Dumas, he recruited to defend his cause. Announcing Sunday in Abidjan, the two men said they wanted the recount to be performed “under international control.” “Let’s have a recount, I do not know who could refuse this in good faith” said Jacques Verges.

Meanwhile, the post-electoral violence risks spreading further outside Abidjan, where the United Nations say nearly 200 people have been killed already. According to information picked up from several news sites, clashes between ethnic Dioula and Gueré broke out in the town of Duekoue, 500 kilometers from Abidjan in the extreme west of the country, causing at least two deaths. A curfew was imposed in the locality where the army is believed to have been deployed.

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