Ivory Coast Talks Fail, Gbagbo Rejects Mediator
Gbagbo’s rival Alassane Ouattara was proclaimed winner of a November 28 poll by the electoral commission and is internationally recognized as president-elect, but Gbagbo has refused to go, alleging vote-rigging by the opposition.
He maintains control of the security forces, much of the cocoa sector and state institutions.
“Despite extensive discussions … with Mr Laurent Gbagbo and President-elect Alassane Ouattara, that went very late into the night, I regret to announce that the breakthrough that was needed, did not materialize,” Odinga told reporters at the airport as he was about to leave.
“Time is running out,” the African Union’s (AU) mediator for Ivory Coast said of efforts to peacefully resolve a stand-off which risks reigniting a 2002-3 civil war that divided the world’s top cocoa growing nation in two.
He said concerned nations “might be forced to take other measures … which would require additional punishing financial sanctions, and possibly the use of force,” against Gbagbo.
It was the strongest statement by a visiting mediator to Ivory Coast in its decade-long crisis and Gbabgo’s camp said it would no longer accept Odinga as go-between.
“Mr. Odinga has failed in his mission and we are no longer prepared to receive him,” Gbagbo’s foreign minister Alcide Djedje told journalists. “He took the side of Mr. Ouattara.”
Odinga blamed Gbagbo for the breakdown in talks, noting he had promised to lift a military siege on the hotel where Ouattara’s parallel government remains under U.N. guard.
“He broke that promise, for the second time in two weeks,” Odinga said.
In the post-poll chaos, Ivory Coast missed a payment on its $2.3 billion bond at the end of December, but has until February 1 before it goes into default.
‘PRESSURE FROM OUTSIDE’
The United Nations in New York said it was launching a $55 million emergency appeal to help neighboring Liberia handle tens of thousands of Ivorian refugees fleeing the crisis.
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday overcame Russian objections and unanimously agreed to send 2,000 additional peacekeepers to Ivory Coast, where U.N. staff and vehicles are increasingly under attack by pro-Gbagbo security forces and allied militias or mobs.
Gbagbo aide Alain Toussaint told Reuters in Paris: “We will resist this new contingent’s arrival by all means, as Laurent Gbagbo reiterated his call last week for the withdrawal of the blue helmets. Reuters