AU mediator reports progress in Cote d'Ivoire talks By HONORE KOUA and Agencies | Tuesday, January 18  2011 at  08:26

Cote d'Ivoire's internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara (right) with the AU mediator, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left), in Abidjan. Photo | AFP | AFRICA REVIEW 

The African Union mediator Raila Odinga has reported progress in the mediation talks between between the two claimants of Côte d’Ivoire presidency.

Speaking after talks in the presidential palace Monday, Mr Odinga said that the two parties were beginning to cooperate. "We have had very fruitful discussions with president Ouattara and subject to certain conditions being met, there may be some discussions further tomorrow," he said.
Both Gbagbo and Ouattara have taken the oath as president, while Gbagbo's army besieges Ouattara's camp at an Abidjan hotel. In response, Ouattara's followers have called for a new general strike starting Tuesday.

At the end of this second meeting late in the night with Ouattara at his hotel, AU emissary said talks would continue Tuesday under some “conditions” that he did not disclose.

Tension has been rising recently between Mr Gbagbo supporters and the UN mission after Gbagbo forces exchanged fire with peacekeepers and the following day pro-Gbagbo mobs set ablaze two UN vehicles and damaged others.

The UN Security Council is due to give its opinion today on the request by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for 1,000-2,000 additional peacekeepers for Côte d’Ivoire.
Despite ongoing mediation, the coalition of political parties backing Mr Ouattara, the Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), kept up its call for resumption of a general strike in the country on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the group, Mr Alphonse Djédjé Mady, appealed to local RHDP representatives “to take all necessary measures for the supervision of activists and supporters” of the coalition to ensure the “total success of the operation."

Last December the group launched a similar operation but failed to paralyse the country until public transporters got involved. According to the strike organisers, the new action would continue until the “departure of Mr Gbagbo."

Odinga's first trip to Abidjan since being appointed as mediator ended on January 5, with little progress after Gbagbo failed to make good on promises that mediator said he made.

The AU and the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have struggled to mediate the crisis, brandishing the threat of military action as a "last resort."

Odinga said he would likely travel on to other countries for talks on the crisis, including Ghana, Angola, Burkina Faso and his own Kenya.