Mbeki heads AU peace mission to troubled Côte d'Ivoire

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- South African President Thabo Mbeki is Tuesday expected to undertake an urgent mission to Abidjan to initiate dialogue among opposing parties in keeping with a mandate of the African Union (AU), according to sources at the AU Commission here.
AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré would accompany the South African leader on the mission, seeking a political solution to the heightened crisis, the sources confirmed.
Mbeki's mission follows high-level consultations last week between the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at Ota, Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Peace and Security Council of the AU has expressed deep concern at the deterioration of the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
At its 19th session late Monday, the Council noted that the deterioration was a result of the lack of progress in the implementation of the commitments entered into by the parties in the Accra III Agreement.
The PSC devoted the session to discussing the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
In view of the seriousness attached to the Ivorian crisis, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo sent his Foreign Minister Rodolf Adada to chair the PSC that met at ambassadorial level.
The chair of the PSC is held on a monthly rotation and for November 2004 it is under Brazzaville.
Though the Council did not specifically blame Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, it said in a communique that the recent attacks by the Government forces on localities in the northern part of Côte d'Ivoire were due to the stalled implementation of the Accra III deal.
The PSC endorsed two statements issued at the weekend by the current AU Chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and by Konaré, both expressing deep concern at the deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
All the parties involved in the crisis should exercise maximum restraint, the PSC emphasised, and urged them to maintain calm and ensure the safety and protection of all life and property.
In addition, the Council appealed to the parties to desist from any pronouncements that incite hatred and violence.
They must also put an immediate end to military actions and other hostile acts.
Parties to the Ivorian crisis, the PSC communique added, should, rather, "take measures that will reduce tension and foster national reconciliation and unity.
" Regarding the humanitarian situation in Côte d'Ivoire, the Council has appealed to the international community and humanitarian agencies to provide the necessary assistance to the affected population.
"In this regard, [the] Council urges all the parties to create an environment conducive to the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance," said the communique.
Calling on the parties to recommit themselves to the path of dialogue, based on the Linas-Marcoussis and Accra III agreements, the PSC stressed they should "fully cooperate with UNOCI and the [French] Licorne Forces in maintaining peace and security in the country.
" The PSC welcomed the decision by the UN Security Council on the strengthening of the mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI).

09 november 2004 08:30:00

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