Ivory Coast president shuns AU envoy

March 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 27 (UPI) -- The African Union's choice of an envoy to mediate between the elected president of Ivory Coast and the former leader who won't step down has been rejected.

Saturday, the union announced ex-foreign minister of Cape Verde, Jose Brito, would mediate the dispute between Alassane Ouattara, who was elected in November, and former President Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to step down, CNN reported.

Ouattara issued a statement in which he refused to negotiate with Brito "given his personal and political connections" with Gbagbo, as well as the fact Brito was not a former head of state as Ouattara had requested.

Gbagbo said after the election he didn't recognize its validity and refused to turn over power, although international election observers validated Ouattara's victory.

The resulting violence from the standoff has killed at least 462 people and displaced nearly 1 million others in the West African country, the United Nations reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama is among international leaders who have urged Gbagbo to step down and said Friday bloodshed and unrest would continue as long as Gbagbo clung to power.

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