AU mediator cuts Ivorian trip short

Raila Odinga to leave Cote d'Ivoire after failing to make a breakthrough in the current political impasse.

    Laurent Gbagbo still holds a blockade around the Golf Hotel where Alassane Ouattara, pictured, is based [Reuters]

    Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga, the African Union's mediator for Cote d'Ivoire, will cut short his trip to the country after failing to make a breakthrough in efforts to resolve its political stalemate.

    Odinga arrived in the West African country for talks on Monday, and was initially expected to stay for days, Odinga's spokesman said on Tuesday.

    His talks were aimed at persuading the country's incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to step aside following the November election that his rival, Alassane Ouattara, is internationally recognised to have won.

    But Odinga is to leave Cote d'Ivoire on Wednesday, following Gbagbo's continued refusal to lift the blockade on the Golf Hotel in Abidjan where Ouattara is based. Gbagbo had promised to do so for a second time on Monday.

    However, Odinga's "not given up on this process," his spokesman Salim Lone told the Reuters news agency.

    "He's leaving tomorrow morning, then going to Ghana, Burkina Faso and South Africa to push for the AU leaders to respect the AU position (that Gbagbo must step down)".

    Series of failures

    The curtailed visit was the latest in a series of failed efforts to force Gbagbo out.

    During the visit, Odinga met with Gbagbo and Ouattara separately in efforts to negotiate a solution to the stalemate.

    And on Tuesday Odinga spoke to various diplomats and ambassadors representing UN Security Council members in pursuit of progress.

    Gbagbo has refused to step down; he retains control of government buildings, state television and the
    security forces. Ouattara is firm in his refusal to speak with Gbagbo until the incumbent relinquishes the post.

    In attempts to further pressure Gbagbo, the European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on him and his inner circle, while efforts continue to squeeze his access to funds.

    Meanwhile, military chiefs of West African regional bloc ECOWAS met in Mali on Tuesday to discuss the planning of a possible military intervention to oust him.

    This had been threatened previously, but nations appear divided on the feasibility of carrying it out. General Mahamane Toure, in charge of peace and security at the ECOWAS Commission, said all possible methods would be looked at before deciding on force.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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