Ivory Coast rivals may talk, mediator hints

A spokesman for Ouattara, Patrick Achi, said by telephone that no meeting would happen until Gbagbo agrees to cede power.

Ivory Coast rivals may talk, mediator hints

The mediator in Ivory Coast's crisis Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga hinted on Monday at possible direct talks between the country's rival presidents to end a violent post-election power struggle.

Odinga spoke at the presidential palace, where incumbent Laurent Gbagbo is still clinging to power after a disputed Nov. 28 election he is widely recognised to have lost.

A spokesman for Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara, who has been internationally recognised as president-elect but remains trapped at a U.N.-guarded hotel, said talks would never happen until Gbagbo steps down.

"We have had very useful discussions with President Gbagbo. We have proposed meetings which we have agreed will take place from tomorrow," Odinga told journalists after meeting Gbagbo.

"This is of course something with certain conditions to be fulfilled. We are going now to have discussions with President Ouattara and put to them what we have agreed with this other side. If those terms are accepted, then the meetings will take place tomorrow."

A spokesman for Ouattara, Patrick Achi, said by telephone that no meeting would happen until Gbagbo agrees to cede power.

"If we're ready to talk face to face, that means Gbagbo must have said he's ready to step down," Achi said.

Odinga last travelled to Ivory Coast along with the presidents of four West African countries on an African Union mission on Jan. 4, but failed to persuade Gbagbo to step down. The mission only succeeded in eliciting a promise that he would ease the blockade on Ouattara's hotel -- which he broke.

U.N. fires to disperse Gbagbo crowd

Ouattara was proclaimed winner of the U.N. certified poll by the electoral commission and congratulated by world leaders, but the pro-Gbagbo constitutional council cancelled hundreds of thousands of votes in Ouattara strongholds to reverse his win, alleging fraud and sparking international outrage.

The U.N. mission estimates that at least 247 people have been killed in the dispute, many in night raids by security forces in pro-Ouattara neighbourhoods.

U.N. peacekeepers in Ivory Coast fired warning shots into the air to disperse angry Gbagbo supporters earlier on Monday, and police fired return shots skywards in an incident that wounded three people, witnesses said.

It was the latest sign of tensions between the United Nations mission, which has refused to heed an order by Gbagbo to leave the country, and pro-Gbagbo crowds. Last week the U.N. mission said mobs attacked and burned six of its vehicles.

U.N. staff have become increasingly victims of attack by pro-Gbagbo security forces and allied militias or mobs in the past few days, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.


Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Ocak 2011, 17:30
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