Gbagbo agrees to negotiate peaceful end to crisis

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - Incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has agreed to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire, without pre-conditions, the ECOWAS delegation that met with him on Monday said.
''He also pledged to immediately lift the blockade around Hotel Du Golf, the temporary headquarters of Mr. Alassane Ouattara,
the President-elect,'' ECOWAS Commission President Victor Gbeho said in a communique he read to journalists in the capital
city of Abuja Tuesday.

He said that on his part, Ouattara ''indicated his willingness to ensure a dignified exit for Mr. Gbagbo, provided the latter accepted
the outcome of the presidential election as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) and certified by the UN''.

The five-member delegation, which included three West African Presidents (Pedros Pires of Cape Verde, Yayi Boni of Benin and
Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone), as well as Kenyan Prime Minister and AU special envoy Raila Odinga and Gbeho, re-stated the
position of ECOWAS heads of state that Ouattara is the legitimate and recognised President of Cote D’Ivoire.

''The Mission commended the resolve of the AU and the ECOWAS to maintain their common principled stance and also act jointly in
search of a lasting solution to the crisis. In this respect, it urges the two institutions to despatch another joint high level mission to Cote d’Ivoire as soon as possible to continue discussions with the two parties,'' Gbeho said..

But Gbeho acknowledged that there is a ''stalemate'' in the negotiations to get Gbagbo to quit, in an apparent reference to the incumbent leader's refusal to step down as demanded by ECOWAS.

On ECOWAS' threat to use force to kick Gbagbo out, Gbeho said: ''The committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff are working on the options
available. We have not gotten to that.''

Meanwhile, Odinga has said the ''Kenyan Solution'' (power-sharing government) is not on the table as part of efforts to resolve the Ivorian crisis.

''I told Gbagbo that the so-called Kenyan Solution was not on the table. I asked him to look at the bigger picture, that we do not want a
perpetuation of this (Kenyan) experiment. It is not a way of advancing democracy in Africa. In an election, there must be winners and losers,'' Odinga said.

Earlier, ECOWAS Chair and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan said the 15-member regional bloc would use force to remove Gbagbo if he fails to step down.
-0- PANA MON/SEG 4Jan2011

04 january 2011 17:12:55

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