Ivorian crisis: Ping, Gbeho due in Abidjan Friday

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - A delegation including African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping and ECOWAS Commission President Victor Gbeho was due in Abidjan Friday to continue efforts to resolve the leadership stalemate in Cote d'Ivoire, ECOWAS sources told PANA.

The sources said the delegation would bring a message from ECOWAS Chair and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, and will also meet incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara.

Ping, accompanied by Gbeho, met with President Jonathan in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Thursday to discuss the Ivorian crisis.

The delegation's visit to Abidjan comes amid reports of over a dozen deaths in the cocoa-rich nation, following Thursday's clash between Ouattara's supporters and security forces loyal to Gbagbo.

Both Gbagbo and Ouattara are laying claim to the country's presidency, after both were declared winners of the 28 Nov. runoff.

Ouattara was declared winner by the electoral commission, while Gbagbo was named winner by the Constitutional Council.

But ECOWAS and the AU, which have both suspended Cote d'Ivoire, are backing Ouattara as the duly elected President of Cote d'Ivoire,
and have asked Gbagbo to step down.

A previous mediation effort by AU Mediator Thabo Mbeki fell through.

Analysts have expressed fears that Cote d'Ivoire, which was split into two in 2002 following a failed mutiny by a section of its military, could slide
back to crisis due to the stalemate of the election, which had been expected to help re-unite the West African nation.
-0- PANA SEG 17Dec2010

17 december 2010 13:41:07

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