African Union says diplomatic options remain in Ivory Coast
Despite threats from regional bloc ECOWAS that it would soon use force in Ivory Coast, leaders of the African Union said they will give mediation efforts more time.
The African Union's envoy said Wednesday that mediators in the Ivory Coast political crisis will "go the extra mile" to negotiate Laurent Gbagbo's removal from power to avoid the bloodshed that would likely occur if force is used.Skip to next paragraph
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West African leaders have threatened to use military force to oust Gbagbo, who has clung to power more than a month after the United Nations said he lost the presidential runoff vote to rival Alassane Ouattara after a decade in power.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who joined three West African leaders as the African Union's envoy in recent talks, said mediation takes time, giving his own experience as an example. Kenyan political rivals disputed the presidential poll results three years ago and violence broke out killing more than 1,000 people. It took two months to negotiate an end to that crisis.
Odinga became prime minister under a power-sharing deal with his then rival, President Mwai Kibaki. The US and others, though, have said that such a coalition government should not be considered in Ivory Coast where the UN certified election results showing Gbagbo clearly lost.
"But force, in our view, should be the last resort because as you know use of force has consequences. Lives will be lost, not just lives of soldiers but also lives of innocent civilians," Odinga told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, following his visits to Ivory Coast and Nigeria this week. "That's really the reason why we are walking the extra mile for a peaceful resolution of this conflict."
Odinga represented the African Union when a high-level delegation went on Monday for the second time to urge Gbagbo to step down, but he rebuffed their appeal.
The delegation, which included the leaders from the nations of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone then traveled to Nigeria to meet with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the current chairman of the 15-nation regional bloc ECOWAS.