Cote d'Ivoire ahs been in political turmoil since the disputed presidential poll in November [EPA]

African leaders have begun talks in the Ethiopian capital to reach a common strategy on resolving Cote d'Ivoire's political crisis and tackle other continental trouble spots.

More than 20 heads of state and governments were present at the opening of the two-day African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Pre-summit meetings made a new proposal to task five heads of state to reach a deal to end Cote d'Ivoire's two-month leadership wrangle in which Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent leader, is
refusing to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, his rival, following a presidential election.

The panel would help Ouattara "exercise power" through a negotiated deal, Jean Ping, the AU commission chief, said.

"There was a reaffirmation of the decision to recognise Ouattara as the president-elect," he told reporters.

Unity government

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, also attending the summit, said a recount of the ballot would be a "grave injustice."

"Reopening the results of the election would be a grave injustice and set an unfortunate precedent," he said.

He underlined the importance of a "peaceful and honouable exit" for Gbagbo and urged "President Ouattara to form a national unity government."

More than 270 people lost their lives during the violence that erupted from the stalemate, according to the UN.

The summit was also expected to discuss the political turmoil in Tunisia and the ongoing protests in Egypt.

On Saturday the bloc said it was "concerned" by the political unrest in Egypt which has claimed over 100 lives in five days.

"Egypt is going through a situation which we need to observe. It is a worrying situation," Ping said.

"After what happened in Tunisia, we are observing the events elsewhere and we are concerned."

Source: Agencies