Use of force remains an option in Cote d'Ivoire - Jonathan

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - Amid speculations that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may have jettisoned its threat to use force to remove incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, the chair of the regional bloc has said the use of force remains an option.

''We have not changed the position we took during the last summit,'' President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria said at a meeting with African Union envoy and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on Sunday

He was referring to the decision of the extra-ordinary summit of ECOWAS 24 Dec. 2010 threatening to use 'legitimate force' to kick out Gbagbo if he fails to step down for the acclaimed winner of the 28 Nov. presidential runoff, Alassane

Jonathan however said ECOWAS would be happy to resolve the electoral stalemate peacefully, adding that consultations continued among the leaders of the 15-member regional group.

Odinga arrived in Nigeria for his second visit as AU envoy on Sunday, and is expected to proceed to Abidjan after meeting with Jonathan.

With Ghana and Gambia breaking ranks with the remaining member states over the use of force in Cote d'Ivoire, there are speculations that ECOWAS may have developed cold feet in its threat to use force against Gbagbo.

The cocoa-rich West African nation is in crisis because of the double claim to the country's presidency by Gbagbo and Ouattara.

The UN said over 200 people have been killed in the post-election crisis in the country.
-0- PANA MON/SEG 17Jan2011

17 january 2011 15:42:29

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