Gbagbo refuses to quit

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Three West African Presidents Monday failed, again, to persuade incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to step down in favour of the internationally-recognised winner of the 28 Nov. presidential runoff in the West African nation, Alassane Ouattara, a source close to the ECOWAS delegation told PANA Monday night.

''That is the summary of the day's meeting, that Gbagbo has refused to quit,'' the source said, without elaborating.

Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde and Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone returned to Abidjan Monday, to follow up on their first trip to Cote d'Ivoire 28 Dec. to convey to Gbagbo the decision of the 15-member regional bloc that he should step down or be forced out.

The West African leaders were joined by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is acting as a special envoy of the AU.

PANA learnt Gbagbo's refusal came in spite of the readiness of the African leaders to grant Gbagbo amnesty and the AU's offer of a job, among a plethora of carrots being dangled to get the incumbent leader out and prevent the world's top cocoa producer from sliding into another civil war.

Already, the UN said clashes between supporters of Ouattara and security forces loyal to Gbagbo have left 173 dead, while thousands have fled to neighbouring countries out of fear the country could re-enact the 2002-2003 civil war.

ECOWAS will now decide on the next step, after Chairman and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan must have been briefed, most likely on Tuesday, by the delegation.

West African military leaders have worked out details of a possible military push against Gbagbo, after a two-day meeting in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja last week.

''The (military) plan is ready, it only remains to be activated,'' said ECOWAS Commission President Sunny Ugoh.
-0- PANA SEG 3Jan2011




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03 january 2011 19:41:57




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