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African Union forms panel to ‘solve’ Ivory Coast presidential crisis

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-30

The African Union said Friday it would assemble a panel to tackle the leadership crisis between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo (left) and challenger Alassane Ouattara (right) in Ivory Coast, pledging to reach a binding solution.

AFP - The African Union said Friday it will set up a heads-of-state panel to find a solution to the Ivory Coast political crisis, with its conclusions binding on the main players in the dispute.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz announced the AU initiative to reporters after a meeting of the African Union's peace and security council at the group's Addis Ababa headquarters.

"This panel will deliver its conclusions within a month and its decisions will be binding for all the Ivorian parties," said Abdel Aziz.

Its make-up would be announced with 48 hours, he added.

AU Commission spokesman Noureddine Mezni said the panel would be composed of "five heads of state, one from each region". The chairman of the panel would be the Mauritanian president, he added.

Explaining their decision, Abdel Aziz said that faced with an African problem, they were trying to find an African solution.

Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo has refused to heed calls to step down in favour of Alassane Ouattara who is internationally recognised as the winner of the November presidential polls.

The announcement came ahead of an African Union summit this weekend.

An excerpt from the Peace and Security Council statement read out by Mezni demanded "the immediate removal of the siege of the Hotel du Golfe and an end to all acts of violence and abuses against the civilian population as well as calls having the effect of inciting hatred and violence."

Gbagbo's forces have surrounded the Abidjan hotel where rival Ouattara has been holed up since the crisis began.

The AU mediator to the crisis, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, on Friday called for direct talks between the rivals.

His two previous attempts to break the two-month old political deadlock have failed.

Date created : 2011-01-28


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