Odinga urges AU Summit to push for direct talks in Cote d’Ivoire

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African Union (AU) envoy Raila Odinga has urged African leaders to strongly push for face-to-face talks between the two claimants to the Ivorian presidency, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara.

Speaking with journalists here on Friday, Odinga, who is also the Prime Minister of Kenya, warned that every day lost in resolving the crisis in the West African nation makes more imminent the specter of further threats to peace and security in the country and the entire region.

Odinga said should the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire become prolonged, it would lead to “continent-wide divisions”.

Odinga spoke a day before the mini-summit on the Ivorian crisis, to be convened here by Ban and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan.

The mini-summit is meant to ensuring the closing of ranks among the various international players in Cote d’Ivoire, following the emergence of a rift between those backing Gbagbo and those opposed to his continued stay in power.

Angola leads those opposed to the international efforts to force the incumbent leader Gbagbo to vacate power, on the strength of his defeat in the 28 Nov. 2010 presidential runoff, widely believed to have been won by Ouattara.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose country goes to the polls 18 February, has also blamed the UN for taking the side of Gbagbo’s rival, Ouattara.

Odinga praised the, local, regional and international unanimity about the outcome of the disputed elections in Africa so far.

“If one's vote does not count in determining who will lead the nation, which is the most elemental dimension of democracy, elections will become meaningless, democracy will lose its luster, and the future will be riddled with unrest and instability,” Odinga told journalists.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 28Jan2011

28 january 2011 17:20:43

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