Gbagbo team urges AU to replace OdingaBy HONORE KOUA in Abidjan | Thursday, January 20 2011 at 08:35
President Laurent Gbagbo's team has opted out of mediation talks led by Kenyan leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Odinga is the African Union’s mediator in the Ivorian election stalemate that pits incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo against Alassane Ouattara who is internationally recognised to have won.
At a press conference, Mr Gbagbo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Alcide Djédjé accused Mr Odinga of bias against their side: “He (Mr Odinga) has failed in his mission and we are no longer ready to receive him here."
The minister was quick to clarify that his team was still committed to talks as long as the AU was ready to send another mediator.
The Kenyan leader who has been the AU mediator to the Cote d'Ivoire crisis was one of the first African leaders to come out against Laurent Gbagbo's takeover last December, after elections results were announced.
Before he was picked as the AU mediator, Mr Odinga openly supported military intervention in the Cote d'Ivoire crisis and dismissed a coalition option similar to the Kenyan one
In the last four weeks, 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."
Tension has been rising recently between Mr Gbagbo's supporters and the UN mission protecting Mr Outtara after pro-Gbagbo forces exchanged fire with peacekeepers.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council agreed to reinforce its mission to Côte d’Ivoire with the deployment of an additional 2,000 troops and three armed helicopters to its peacekeeping operation in the country.
In the meantime, the Cote d'Ivoire crisis remains unresolved; security officials from West Africa who have been meeting in Bamako Mali are yet to announced their strategy.
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