ECOWAS delegation returns to Cote d'Ivoire

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Three West African Presidents were due in Abidjan Monday to continue their efforts to resolve the electoral impasse in Cote d'Ivoire, following the 28 Nov. 2010 presidential rerun in the cocoa-rich nation.

''They are on their way (to Cote d'Ivoire),'' ECOWAS Commission Spokesman Sunny Ugoh told PANA Monday morning.

Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde and Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone were mandated by the 15-member regional bloc to convey to incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo its 24 Dec. decision asking him to quit or be forced out.

After briefing ECOWAS Chair and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja 29 Dec., the Nigerian leader announced that the delegation would return to Cote d'Ivoire 3 Jan.

''We are still talking. I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the meeting because they would be going back on the 3rd of January.
Dialogue is on and that is why they are encouraging us to go back. Whenever there is a dispute, it is dialogue that resolves all issues,''
he said.

Jonathan said at the weekend that ECOWAS would take a decision on further steps to be taken on the Ivorian impasse on Tuesday,
after receiving subsequent report from the delegation.

After a two-day meeting in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, West African military chiefs have worked out the modalities for a possible use of force to remove Gbagbo, if ongoing negotiations fail.

Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the internationally-acclaimed winner of the 28 Nov, poll, are both laying claim to the Ivorian Presidency, creating a stalemate and triggering tension.

Ouattara's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said at the weekend that only force can get Gbagbo out and urged ECOWAS to use ''legitimate force'' against the sit-tight incumbent.
-0- PANA SEG 3Jan2011

03 january 2011 09:34:09

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