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ECOWAS Seeks International Support on Ivorian Crisis

  • Peter Clottey

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, right, with Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, left, Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma, center, after offering Laurent Gbagbo an amnesty deal at the presidential palace in Abidjan, 03 Jan 2011

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, right, with Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, left, Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma, center, after offering Laurent Gbagbo an amnesty deal at the presidential palace in Abidjan, 03 Jan 2011

A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says the regional bloc is seeking international support from President Barack Obama’s administration, as well as the U.N. Security Council, to help resolve the ongoing crisis in Ivory Coast.

Sonny Ugoh, communications director for the regional bloc, said ECOWAS will continue seeking new ways to resolve the crisis.

“It’s part of the continuing efforts by the region to maintain the international consensus in favor of finding a solution to the situation in Cote d’Ivoire vis-à-vis our position in relation to the election of November 28th, how we can make sure that our position in making sure that [President-elect Alassane] Ouattara takes his place as president of Cote d’Ivoire,” said Ugoh.

“A week ago, the president of Burkina Faso led a delegation to Britain to see the prime minister of the United Kingdom. So, this is all part of working together to sensitize and engage with the international community, so that we can all continue to move in the same direction so, that the vote of the people counts in Cote d’Ivoire.”

A delegation of the West African sub-regional bloc, including Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, is scheduled to meet members of the Security Council Thursday after meeting President Obama.

ECOWAS continues to find ways to resolve the Ivorian crisis after recent attempts failed to convince embattled President Laurent Gbagbo to step down and cede power to Mr. Ouattara.

Ugoh said the regional bloc wants to ensure Mr. Ouattara takes office despite the refusal of Mr. Gbagbo to step down.

“Increasingly, as the day goes by, it becomes [clear] what additionally we need to do together as the international community to bring to fruition the objective that we are working towards, [and] that is for [Mr.] Ouattara assume his place as president,” said Ugoh.

“So, we want to discuss with the authorities in the U.S. and we want to discuss with the authorities in the U.N. to see how we can continue to work together to make sure that [Mr.] Ouattara takes over.”

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Gbagbo said he is seizing control of Ivorian branches of the West African central bank in an attempt to retain control of state finances. He also ordered Ivorian staffers to answer to local officials and not the bank's management, which is based in Dakar, Senegal.

But, in a countermove, Mr. Ouattara ordered Ivorian branches of the regional bank to be closed. He has vowed to prosecute anyone who follows Mr. Gbagbo’s orders.

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