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Analyst: AU Panel Likely Last Chance for Embattled Ivorian Leader

  • James Butty

Ivory Coast, President Laurent Gbagbo, speaks during an exclusive interview at his residence, in Abidjan, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. West African leaders are giving the man who refuses to leave Ivory Coast's presidency a final chance to hand over power and ar

Ivory Coast, President Laurent Gbagbo, speaks during an exclusive interview at his residence, in Abidjan, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. West African leaders are giving the man who refuses to leave Ivory Coast's presidency a final chance to hand over power and ar

University of Abuja Professor Kabiru Mato says the AU Panel visiting Ivory Coast Monday will likely demand again that Mr. Gbagbo steps down

A university professor said the African Union panel of five heads of state, which arrives in Ivory Coast Monday, will most likely give embattled President Laurent Gbagbo the last opportunity to leave power honorably.

Kabiru Mato, chair of the political science department at the University of Abuja in Nigeria, told VOA the message will be no different from what Mr. Gbagbo had been told before, that he must leave power.

“The issue here is that, I think, the resolution is that Mr. Gbagbo is going to be told once again that ‘Look, this is the decision of the African Union; this is the position of the international community about this election and no matter what irregularities and abnormalities that you might be thinking that had been committed, you don’t have the public opinion perspective; so, why can’t you leave so that we can have peace in Ivory Coast?’ So, the fundamental issue I want to make very clear here is that there is nothing spectacularly new that is going to be part of that message,” he said.

Mato said the international community, especially the African region, is apparently fed up and agitated and worried about the fact that Mr. Gbagbo continues to be recalcitrant.

He said the African Union was perhaps making this latest attempt to give Mr. Gbagbo a final opportunity to make an honorable and face saving exit.

“The issue is that the (African) Union is trying to give Mr. Gbagbo the opportunity to agree to the diplomatic and peaceful means of resolving the crisis in the Ivory Coast,” Mato said.

Unfortunately, Mato said, Mr. Gbagbo has turned a deaf ear to the diplomatic gestures of the African Union and the rest of the international community.

He said it appears the deployment of a limited military force could follow if this latest diplomatic attempt to resolve the impasse fails.

The African Union, the United Nations, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have all said they recognize President-elect Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the November presidential election.

But, some analysts have said they fear that Mr. Ouattara, if and whenever he takes power, could become a weak president given the fact that Ivory Coast appears divided.

Mato said Mr. Ouattara’s first task would be to try to reunite the country.

“When (Mr.) Ouattara becomes the president, the fundamental thing he is going to be facing is the issue of trying to reconcile, trying to reconstruct, and trying to rehabilitate those who have been the victims and affected by this long crisis of leadership in Ivory Coast since the fall of President Felix Houphouet-Boigny,” Mato said.

Mato said the Ivory Coast leadership impasse could come to an end perhaps as early as next month.

“I don’t have any doubt about that. I know it’s just a matter of grandstanding. It’s just a matter of time. I see him getting out of the government house in Ivory Coast as soon as possible,” Mato said.

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