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Call for Nationwide Strike in Ivory Coast Gathers Little Traction


Alassane Ouattara answers questions from journalists during a press conference at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (File Photo - 06 Jan 2011)

Alassane Ouattara answers questions from journalists during a press conference at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (File Photo - 06 Jan 2011)

In Ivory Coast, a call for a nationwide strike against incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, has failed to spark widespread participation, as the regional mediator to the country's post-electoral crisis continues talks in Abidjan.

U.N.-endorsed presidential election winner, Alassane Ouattara, called on Ivorians to strike Tuesday in an attempt to ramp up pressure on incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down following November's disputed presidential election.

Witnesses in the country's commercial capital, Abidjan said people appeared to be going to work as normal Tuesday and strike participation was concentrated in pro-Ouattara neighborhoods.

Gbagbo shows no signs of budging despite mounting international sanctions, blocked funds, diplomatic pressure and threats of regional military intervention.

African Union mediator and Kenyan prime minister, Raila Odinga, arrived in Abidjan Monday and met with the two leaders.

Following his meeting with Gbagbo, Odinga said there was a chance the two rivals could meet Tuesday.

"We have proposed meeting which we have agreed will take place tomorrow," said Odinga. "This is of course subject to certain conditions being fulfilled."

Ouattara's camp, however, says Mr. Gbagbo must step down before any face-to-face meeting can take place.

Ouattara, who remains holed up in an Abidjan hotel under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers, told VOA that he believes Gbagbo is not serious about international mediation and is stalling for time.

"Stalling allows him to import arms, ammunition, and to recruit mercenaries and militia so that he can continue to kill the Ivorian people," said Ouattara. "I think he thinks this is good for him, but it is very bad for Cote d'Ivoire and the Ivorians."

Gbagbo's government, however, says it is the former rebel fighters backing Ouattara who pose a threat to national security.

The U.N. human rights office says post-electoral violence has killed at least 247 people in Ivory Coast.

Odinga remains in Abidjan, where he met with diplomats and ambassadors representing U.N. Security Council members Tuesday in the hopes of moving negotiations forward.

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