Ivorian president rejects ECOWAS negotiations, transition

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo has reiterated his rejection of "any kind of fresh negotiations with ECOWAS" as well as the proposed transitional administration after the expiry of his mandate on 30 October 2005.
In a radio and televised message Tuesday evening, Gbagbo appealed to the international community "and once again the United Nations and African Union to assume their responsibilities by taking urgent measures to disarm the rebels.
" "Disarmament must take place for elections to be held.
Our constitution does not allow the holding of any kind political elections in case of infringement of national sovereignty.
"In any case, the presence of armed groups other than the regular army is an obstacle to the holding of elections," Gbagbo said.
The Ivorian leader re-affirmed that he holds "legitimate and legal powers" which he will "only hand over to an elected person as stipulated by the constitution.
" It is for this reason that the constitution requires the president of the republic to make a national address to explain the circumstances preventing the holding of elections and remains in power until the holding of elections, or continues to rule until the proclamation of results.
"All the peace agreements signed so far have stressed the need to respect the constitution," Gbagbo said.
Affirming that elections cannot be held on 30 October "because the rebels will not have disarmed by that date," the president rejected any proposal for a transition administration as demanded by opposition parties.
"This is contrary to the constitution.
There will be no transition," Gbagbo said and urged "those who want to seize power by using other means rather than elections" to say so and "come out openly.
" However, according to Gbagbo, elections or the presidency are not the real problems in Cote d'Ivoire.
"The problem is that the rebels have refused to disarm.
" "The disarmament of everyone not authorised to carry weapons is today the only obstacle to democracy in Cote d'Ivoire.
I therefore appeal to the international community once again to take its responsibility so that elections can be held," the Ivorian president underscored.
Ivorian elections cannot be held on the constitutionally set date because rebels have not yet disarmed, while the country is still divided into two -- the rebel held north and government controlled south.
There are uncertainties as to what would happen after 30 October 2005.
In a bid to unlock the latest bottleneck in the Ivorian peace process, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) have convened a heads of state summit in Abuja, Nigeria on 6 October.
President Gbagbo categorically rejected the move, saying, "I will not accept any mediation because there are no more negotiations to be done.
"We have already reached several agreements: Accra I, Linas-Marcoussis, Accra II, Accra III, Pretoria I and Pretoria II.
These must be immediately implemented because the zone controlled by rebels in my country is on the brink of a humanitarian and security disaster," Gbagbo pointed out.
He insisted the need to put an end to people's suffering because three years have elapsed since the outbreak of the conflict.
The Ivorian president said he was reluctant to allow the involvement of ECOWAS in the search for a solution to the crisis in his country because "ECOWAS countries served as training grounds for rebels.
ECOWAS countries are therefore seriously involved in this rebellion.
" Gbagbo also mentioned economic reasons for rejecting the ECOWAS offer for mediation.
"The rebels are looting my country's wealth, namely coffee, cocoa, diamonds, gold, timber and cotton on a daily basis on behalf of certain countries of the sub-region which have today turned into exporters of resources they do not produce," he claimed.
He also deplored the looting of branches of local banks and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) in the northern zone controlled by rebels.
"And the criminals have opened accounts within ECOWAS countries," said Gbagbo, who commended the mediation of the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, under the mandate of the African Union.

28 september 2005 13:59:00

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