Diplomatic moves to avert Ivorian confrontation

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- Ghanaian President John Kufuor, the current ECOWAS chairman arrived here Wednesday and held talks with his Ivorian counterpart Laurent Gbagbo in a bid to defuse the rising tension on the eve of an opposition protest demonstration in Abidjan Thursday.
According to a West African diplomat, Kufuor's visit is part of intensive diplomatic moves to avert a general explosion with unpredictable consequences for Cote d'Ivoire and the West African sub-region.
Earlier, Gbagbo had received the special envoy of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), Lansana Kouyate.
The Guinean diplomat recently attracted the wrath of proponents of the Marcoussis peace agreements and the Ivorian press for joining Ivorian government officials on a lobbying mission to New York to convince the UN include an Angolan contingent in the world body's peacekeeping force in Cote d'Ivoire.
Certain opposition leaders recently called for Kouyate's departure because of his alleged "special" relations with President Gbagbo.
The Ivorian Head of State also received Nigerian Foreign Minister Oluyemi Adeniji and his cabinet colleague of African Integration.
Adeniji, who delivered a message from President Olusegun Obasanjo, told journalists that Abuja's main concern was the "lingering discord likely to undermine peace in Cote d'Ivoire.
" Before that, President Gbagbo also held discussions with members of the follow-up committee monitoring the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis peace agreement signed in January 2003.
The follow-up committee led by the UN secretary general special envoy to Cote d'Ivoire, Albert Tevoedjre, convinced Gbagbo to address the nation Tuesday evening.
Gabon's ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire Henri Bekalle also met with Gbagbo.
He did not make any statement at the end of his audience, although hiss presence at State House indicates that President Omar Bongo Ondimba is working behind the scene to defuse the Ivorian crisis.
In January, the Gabonese President convened a meeting with Gbagbo and the French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, at a time when relations between Abidjan and Paris were strained.

24 march 2004 17:50:00

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