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Africa
Ouattara rejects AU mediation offer
Cote d'Ivoire's internationally recognised leader says envoy appointed by AU has personal ties with his rival Gbagbo.
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2011 00:18
 Violence and mass displacements of civilans continue to spread across the country [EPA]

Cote d'Ivoire's internationally recognised president has rejected the African Union's envoy tasked with mediating the crisis in the West African country.

Alassane Ouattara said on Sunday Jose Brito, a former foreign minister from the island nation of Cape Verde, had "personal relations" with Laurent Gbagbo, the rival president who lost last November's election but is refusing to step down.

The appointment of Brito is the latest attempt by the AU to find a solution to the political crisis that is threatening to push the country towards civil war.

In a statement Ouattara said he "deeply regrets not having been consulted, nor having been approached" about the decision.

He "expressed surprise" about the selection of Brito "given his personal relationship and his political connection, known to everyone in Cote d'Ivoire, with Gbagbo".

"Moreover, this decision does not conform to the expressed will to appoint a former head of state in this function," his statement added.

"Consequently, the Presidency of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire rejects Jose Brito as the AU high representative."

'Speculation and plot'

Abdon Georges Bayeto, an adviser to Gbagbo, said though Ouattara is internationally recognised as president, he is not supposed to "impose who is going to mediate".

"Alassane Ouattara is not the president of Cote d'Ivoire [and] will never be the president of Cote d'Ivoire," he told Al Jazeera from London. "He is the president recognised by the international community and that's it."

"Ivory Coast is a sovereign country and the country has got a constitution and ... a constitutional council who recognised Gbagbo as the winner after the election," Bayeto said.

"The rest for us is all speculation and a political plot against Laurent Gbagbo."

The crisis has seen more than 460 people killed since the end of 2010, sparking a grave humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

Up to a million people have been driven from their homes - many of whom have had to seek refuge in neighbouring Liberia and Ghana.

The AU charged Brito with working towards talks between the two rival camps so propositions endorsed by the the body in Addis Ababa on March 10 could be implemented, an AU statement said.

Earlier this month, the AU endorsed the conclusions of a panel of five African heads of state, recognising Ouattara as the legitimate winner of November elections.

But the heads of state asked him to put in place an inclusive government and help find a "graceful exit" for his rival.

Gbagbo's camp, however, quickly rejected the AU's proposals as "unacceptable".

Jean Ping, the head of the AU Commission, repeated a call to the rival camps to work towards implementing the political settlement the AU endorsed.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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