AU names Mbeki Ivorian crisis mediator, hints at sanctions

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) on Saturday announced the appointment of former South African President Thabo Mbeki as the chief mediator to the Ivorian political crisis moments before the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo was sworn in for a new term, PANA reported.

The AU said it was monitoring the crisis in the country and could slap sanctions if necessary.

“The Chairperson of the Commission will continue his efforts and closely monitor the developments on the ground, in light of the relevant AU instruments under which all the countries of the continent have committed themselves to democracy, good governance and the respect for human rights,” the AU stated.

The former South African leader would consult the AU Chairman President Bingu Mutharika of Malawi, on how to effectively work out a possible solution to the political crisis in the West African nation.

The AU said the decision to appoint Mbeki followed a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) in Tripoli, Libya,  on 30  November, 2010, during which the African leaders called for the respect of the results of the Presidential elections in Cote d’ Ivoire.

“The President of the Commission of the African Union (Jean Ping) decided, after consultation with stakeholders and partners of the AU, to nominate former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to an emergency mission in Côte d'Ivoire,” the continental body said.

“The purpose of this mission, which begins on 4 December, is to facilitate the prompt and peaceful electoral process and the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire on the basis of decisions and instruments of the AU through consultations with stakeholders,” the AU said.

Ping called for continued and intensified consultations. The AU chief has held talks with President Mutharika, as well as ECOWAS, the Ombudsman in the Ivorian crisis. He has also consulted President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Ping was due to inform the PSC scheduled to meet for this purpose, the evolution of its efforts and initiatives taken by the AU.

At the same time, Ping said he was following “with concern and growing anxiety,” the developments in Côte d'Ivoire, since the Presidential run-off vote of 28 November 2010.

Ping said the presidential run-off vote was held in conditions that had been judged satisfactory by all election observation missions, including those of ECOWAS and the AU, as well as by the Special Representative of the Secretary‐General of the United Nations.

President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire was on Saturday sworn in for another term in controversial circumstances as the sub-regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has threatened sanctions against the country.

This was after the Constitutional Council overturned the results of the Independent Electoral Commission in the 28 November presidential run-off that gave the verdict to veteran opposition leader and economist, Alassane Ouattara.

However, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, James Victor Gbeho, has said firmly that the sub-regional body would not recognise him.

He said Gbagbo's action is neither legal nor in accordance with the results of the vote that ECOWAS also observed and agrees was won by Ouattara. 

Gbagbo said ECOWAS had discouraged President Gbagbo from changing the election results and it was “surprised and disappointed” at his attitude.

He said leaders of the ECOWAS, who would hold an extraordinary summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Tuesday, 7 December, to discuss the worsening political situation in Cote d'Ivoire would invoke sanctions against Cote d'Ivoire, including a suspension.

The Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, Nigerian President Goolduck Jonathan, and Gbeho had been consulting with leaders in the sub-region on the crisis who agreed the meeting and the date.

Ivorian Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro, has warned that the situation "threatens the ideal of reunifying the country".

He resigned before the investiture of President Gbagbo and has thrown his weight behind Ouattara, whose camp is planning its own swearing-in.

The presidential results of the second round polls were announced and showed the presidential challenger Allassane Qattara, had won the vote by 54.1% against 44.9% for the incumbent President Gbagbo.

But the Constitutional Council later rejected the preliminary results announced by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

“In this particularly delicate and crucial phase in the history of Côte d'Ivoire and the process of finding a way out of the crisis, Ivorian officials and political leaders must put the interests of Côte d'Ivoire and its people above any other consideration, and demonstrate a high sense of responsibility,” the AU chief said.

The African leaders meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government in Tripoli, on 30 November 2010, stressed the imperative need to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the polls.

“Any other approach risks plunging Côte d’Ivoire into a crisis with incalculable consequences for the country, as well as for the region and the continent as a whole,” the AU said.

The Chairperson of the Commission is in contact with the Mediator in the Ivorian crisis and ECOWAS, to whom he renews the appreciation of the AU for their efforts and commitment that led to the holding of the elections, as part of the process for a way out of the crisis.

Ping welcomed their mobilization, notably through the Security Council, in support of efforts to ensure the successful conclusion of the electoral process and bring an end to the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire.
-0- PANA AO/MA 4Dec2010

04 december 2010 15:27:47

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