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Gbagbo starting to get it, leader says

Jan. 5, 2011 at 11:29 AM   |   Comments

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo is starting to understand the severity of the pressure facing the African country, the Kenyan prime minister said.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is leading the African Union in pressing Ivorian leaders to settle a political dispute that is pushing the country closer to civil conflict.

Gbagbo, the incumbent president, has refused to step down despite international recognition that his rival Alassane Ouattara won a November election meant to unite a country divided by a 2002 civil war.

Odinga told al-Jazeera that it seemed Gbagbo was starting to understand the severity of the situation.

"I think Gbagbo now appreciates the gravity of the situation, the dangers that there are in terms of possibilities of violent confrontations between the two camps, with the possibility of the loss of life," the Kenyan leader was quoted as saying.

The AU joined members of the Economic Community of West African States in intervening in the political crisis. ECOWAS said it would consider military force to depose Gbagbo, though bilateral sentiments had moved toward peace early this week.

Though the two leaders have yet to reach a settlement, observers say it's likely Gbagbo would accept some sort of power-sharing deal.

Political violence in the Ivory Coast has left more than 170 people dead.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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