Ouattara meets Nigeria's President

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The internationally-recognised winner of Cote d'Ivoire's presidential election, Alassane Ouattara, met with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan at the presidential villa in the capital city of Abuja Friday night, following the failed mediation efforts of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The meeting was held behind closed doors at the president's official residence, and the details were not known.

''I am not sure if a statement will be issued on the meeting because the President is on his way to Lagos,'' a presidential spokesman told PANA Saturday morning.

But PANA learnt the meeting was to enable Ouattara to brief President Jonathan, who holds the rotational chairmanship of the 15-member regional bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on the outcome of the Addis Ababa meeting.

ECOWAS spearheaded the resolution of the Ivorian post-election crisis until January, when the AU decided to set up a High Level Panel to help find a peaceful solution to the crisis, which has claimed hundreds of lives and threatened pushing the cocoa-rich West African nation into another civil war.

The AU Panel tabled its proposal at a meeting to which Ouattara and incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo were invited on Thursday and Friday in the Ethiopian capital.

Highlights of the peace proposals include the immediate recognition and swearing in of Ouattara as Ivorian President, the formation of an inclusive government by Ouattara and the need to ensure a 'dignified exit' for Gbagbo.

Ouattara insisted on being recognised by the Gbagbo camp as the winner of the 28 Nov. presidential runoff, while Gbagbo, who was represented at the meeting by his Foreign Minister and party officials, rejected the peace deal.

An ECOWAS Commission official told PANA in Abuja Saturday that the resolution of Cote d'Ivoire's post-election crisis is now back squarely in the hands of ECOWAS.

''It is increasingly looking like it may take the use of legitimate force to dislodge Gbagbo,'' the official said, referring to the decision of ECOWAS leaders at the last extra-ordinary summit on Cote d'Ivoire, in Abuja 24 Dec. 2010, to use legitimate force to oust Gbagbo if he fails to step down.

ECOWAS leaders are due to meet at a summit in the capital city of Abuja 23-24 March, and the Ivorian crisis will dominate the agenda.
-0- PANA SEG 12March2011

12 march 2011 09:30:19

xhtml CSS