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ECOWAS Backs Ivory Coast President for Another Year Despite Expired Term


It has emerged that the West African group of nations, ECOWAS, is backing Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo for another year, despite his elected term having ended a year ago.

The Liberian government leaked what was supposed to be a secret proposal to the African Union, announcing that ECOWAS had decided to back Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo for another year in office.

ECOWAS heads of state met last Friday to discuss Ivory Coast peace plan, but had kept recommendations they were passing on to the African Union secret.

Until it is official, Ivorian opposition groups will not comment on the news that the region supports a second mandate extension for Mr. Gbagbo, after the international community gave him an extra year last October to organize free elections.

Instead, the spokesman for the opposition Rally of the Republicans, Aly Coulibaly, used the opportunity to lament that only Mr. Gbagbo's side was represented at the summit.

It is a shame, he says, that the different signatories of the peace accords were not present. He says, they would have had the opportunity of putting their point of view forward, and, he continues, thus helped find a solution to get out of the current impasse.

The rebel New Forces, who have controlled northern Ivory Coast since the 2002 to 2003 civil war, and the major opposition parties, do not want Mr. Gbagbo to stay in power.

They want the constitution to be suspended, as it conflicts with pivotal U.N. resolutions, and a transitional government installed, in which the prime minister would have sufficient powers to redo electoral lists, organize disarmament and thus allow for free and fair elections.

Mr. Gbagbo insists that the rebels refusal to disarm is the only obstacle to peace.

The AU Peace and Security Council and the U.N. Security Council are to meet during the next two weeks to discuss the matter. The is no other peace plan for after end October.

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