Political turmoil continues in Ivory Coast

Jan. 29, 2011 at 9:24 AM
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A fracture may be occurring among members of the African Union as they attempt to settle a political standoff in Ivory Coast, officials said.

The African Union previously supported Alassane Ouattara as winner of Ivory Coast's presidential election held in November, but incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down, citing election fraud, the BBC reported.

The AU is now organizing a group of African heads of state to help find a solution to the stalemate and some members want Ouattara and Gbagbo to hold face-to-face meetings to help settle the issue.

The AU's Peace and Security Council met in Addis Ababa Friday and Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said it wants an African solution for the problem.

"Every day lost in moving forward towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis makes more imminent the specter of further threats to peace and security in Cote d'Ivoire and the region," said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the AU mediator to the crisis.

The group also called for an end to the seige at the hotel where Ouattara is living and running a second government.

The Peace and Security Council called for "the immediate removal of the siege of the Hotel du Golfe and an end to all acts of violence and abuses against the civilian population as well as calls having the effect of inciting hatred and violence."

Calling for direct talks between Gbagbo and Ouattara, Odinga said a meeting of the 53-nation AU Sunday should "send a strong and unequivocal message that the two parties must negotiate face to face."

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