AU Summit: AU mediator warns use of force may prolong Ivorian crisis

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African Union’s mediator in Cote d’Ivoire Raila Odinga, said Friday that Africa should stand ready to deploy other measures, excluding the use of force, to end the crisis in the West African nation.

The use of force, he said, would likely prolong the crisis there.

“Cote d’Ivoire symbolizes the great tragedy that seems to have befallen Africa, whereby some incumbents are not willing to give up power if they lose,” Odinga, the Kenyan Prime Minister, told journalists on the sidelines of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

He implied that incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo had refused to vacate power in favour of the internationally-recognised rival, Alassane Ouattara.

Odinga said the AU must mobilize the entire international community to find a peaceful solution to end the crisis “on the basis of resolutions already adopted” by the Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“Africa must stand ready to deploy other measures if a settlement cannot be agreed through negotiations. Our efforts are not about imposing democracy of free and fair elections. They are about avoiding much greater disaster,” Odinga said.

African leaders, including Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the ECOWAS Chairman, and Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore, the regional facilitator of the Ivorian dialogue, arrived for the PSC meeting Friday.

“The leaders are meeting to try to find a unified position of the AU and the other international institutions,” AU Commission Chairperson’s Spokesman Nourredine Mezni, told PANA.

Odinga said a solution to the Ivorian crisis must not only serve the purpose of peace but also the interest of all the parties involved in the power struggle.

The AU envoy warned that the lack of proper information regarding the results of the elections was also part of the crisis facing the Ivorian people.

Odinga said: “There is still a level of unawareness about some of the most important facts surrounding the electoral process. My report to the PSC emphasizes that the agreement on how the elections were to be organized and conducted were formally approved by President Gbagbo and the contending parties.”

The European Union, which observed the elections, released its final report on the elections Friday, which declared the elections free and fair.

The report dismissed Gbagbo’s claim that there were incidences of electoral fraud which could affect the overall outcome.

The EU observers said no adequate evidence had been issued by the incumbent’s camp to prove that the elections were not free and fair.

Odinga said Gbagbo's refusal to accept the results of the second round of the elections, which showed his rival winning, might have far-reaching consequences in the future of democracy in Africa.

The EU observers said the elections were administered by the Independent Election Commission (CEI), which carried them out with some shortcomings.

However, the international standards for democratic elections did not suffer major violations.

The Chief Observer declared that the Mission had detected “no major incidents, no indications of fraud” in the 935 polling stations observed by the 100 observers, which found minimal shortfalls.

The report partly blamed the incumbent leader of “stage managing” a crisis to create conditions, including the curfew, using the media to broadcast false information about the security situation.

They said that led to the delay in the announcement of the final results.
-0- PANA AO/BOS 28Jan2011

28 january 2011 16:20:22

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