Pro-Gbagbo delegation in Kenya, seeking support for "embattled" president

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - An Ivorian delegation is in Kenya to drum up support for the embattled Ivorian President  Laurent Gbagbo, ahead of the forthcoming African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The delegation, led by Gbagbo's special advisor Ateby Williams, said facts on the political deadlock in the West African country had been misrepresented and there was the need to present the correct position to the AU.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Williams emphasised that they were not in the country to complain about Prime Minister Raila Odinga's deployment as the AU chief mediator in the crisis.

"It is not up to us to decide whether Prime Minister Raila Odinga should continue the mediation process or not because he has been sent by the AU and they are the ones to decide. On the contrary, we would like to commend him for the work he did," he said in an interview with Capital News.

"But the idea here is also to revisit the purpose of his mission as mediator and see how he can avoid discontenting part of the nation. His mediation should be peaceful and equity based," he added.

A plain-speaking Odinga has made it clear that Gbagbo must step down. That, he says, is the AU position on the matter.

Odinga has been to the west African state twice, where he met Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the internationally-acclaimed winner of the 28 November, 2010, presidential run-off vote.

Ouattara is recognised by the international community, including the United Nations, ECOWAS, and the AU as the legitimate Ivorian president.

President Gbagbo has since declared Odinga a biased mediator, adding that he was not any longer welcomed to Cote d'Ivoire, a claim Odinga has brushed off, saying his role was to communicate the AU position, which he did.

Odinga has also briefed the Economic Community to West Africa (ECOWAS), chairman, President Goodluck Jonathan  of Nigeria and the regional block has threatened to use force to kick Gbagbo out of office.

Williams said Cote d'Ivoire was now looking for support from countries, organisations and all those who could play a role to ensure that peace was restored.

Odinga said the envoys were not in Kenya at his behest, adding that he had already compiled a report on the stalemate
and submitted it to the AU headquarters.

"If they need me to go and present it personally they will inform me and then I will go there,"he said.

Gbagbo's advisor said a vote recount would be the best solution to the crisis that was triggered by the incumbent's refusal to hand over the presidency to Ouattara.

He added that they were opposed to military intervention to end the deadlock, since Gbagbo was "willing to step down if he lost in the recount."

"He is a man, he will agree to it,"  Williams said.

"African countries must resolutely take the opposite position against this intention of a military solution because any fire or gunshot is likely to take the life of a citizen and today in Africa this is not what we would like," he added.

Mr. Williams accused France of inciting the violence due to a misunderstanding with Gbagbo's government which also led to the attempted coup in 2002.

By Thursday, the special envoys had not met Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga and there was no indication that they would ever meet the two leaders.
-0- PANA DJ/VAO27Jan2011

27 january 2011 19:09:49

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