'Gbagbo dug own grave in fight to cling to power'

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Captured former Ivorian leader, Laurent Gbagbo, declined a university job or a quiet surrender in exchange for amnesty from criminal prosecution to secure peace in Cote d’Ivoire, a former African Union mediator has disclosed.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, said Tuesday that Gbagbo’s defeat was seen coming months ago, even as he fought on to stay in power, against the wishes of the international community, including the United Nations.

“I saw it coming. Gbagbo was digging for a war I knew he couldn’t win and I told him as much. His troops had been very demoralized,” Odinga said in New York.

The AU ruled out the use of force, saying unless a multinational force was used, such as the one in Afghanistan, peace was the best means to resolve the crisis.

“I told him he could surrender and remain in the country where he would remain active politically if he chose to without being taken to court,” Odinga’s office quoted him saying in an interview with the New York Times.

Insisting that the former Ivorian leader was misguided by a “false sense of security” being offered to him by other African leaders, Odinga said Gbagbo also declined a US offer for exile, where he was assured of a teaching job at the University of Boston.

“I also offered him to go to exile and be a lecturer at the Boston University. America had given me that offer. All that is now lost,” Odinga recalled.

Forces loyal to President-elect, Alassane Ouattara, backed by French and UN forces, captured Gbagbo, his wife, Simone, and son, Michel, on Monday and immediately delivered him to Ouattara’s temporary headquarters at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan.

Odinga said Gbagbo ignored ‘lucrative offers’ from both the US and European Union, but insisted that his end was predictable in the face of international sanctions.

“When his representative was removed from the regional bank (the Central Bank of West Africa), I knew Gbagbo was not going to pay soldiers even the little salaries he had been paying them,” Odinga said.

Odinga has urged Ouattara to prioritise the unity of Cote d’Ivoire as he begins the work of reconstructing the country’s economy and its political fabric.

“Ouattara has what it takes to unite Cote d'Ivoire," he said, adding that the key priorities were to restore the export of cocoa and embark on the reconciliation.

It is believed part of the reasons that Gbagbo fell, was the ban on the cocoa exports and the subsequent decision by the key buyers to go for new purchases.

“Things got worse for him (Gbagbo) when cocoa importers cut their business with the country by up to 40 per cent,” Odinga reiterated.

Key to reconciliation, Odinga said, was to get Gbagbo’s key supporters into the new government, which he said Ouattara had been willing to undertake.

According to Odinga, Ouattara had agreed to offer 30 per cent of the government to Gbagbo’s allies.

He said Gbagbo received several offers, which he could not win back following his humiliating capture by the pro-Ouattara forces.
-0- PANA AO/BOS 13April2011

13 avril 2011 16:40:06

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