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Ouattara Pessimistic About AU Mediation for Ivory Coast


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)

The United-Nations-certified winner of Ivory Coast's presidential election says he is pessimistic about African Union efforts to resolve the country's political crisis.

The presidents of Chad, Mauritania, South Africa, and Tanzania are in Ivory Coast to find a way to resolve the standoff between the country's rival governments.

They met Monday with incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, who says he was re-elected when the country's constitutional council annulled as fraudulent nearly 10 percent of all ballots cast in November's vote.

They met Tuesday with former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, who says he was elected president based on results announced by the electoral commission and certified by the United Nations.

Mr. Ouattara told the African Union heads of state that he has little hope for the success of their mission because previous efforts by the presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone, and Cape Verde as well as the former presidents of Nigeria and South Africa have all failed.

Mr. Ouattara says Ivory Coast is traversing a difficult period, and the African Union mission is one of last resort. He says all the other missions came with the same message: that Mr. Gbagbo lost and needs to give up power peacefully. Mr. Ouattara says, unfortunately, that has not happened.

The heads of state have one week to decide how best to resolve the political crisis, a decision that the African Union says will be legally binding on all Ivorians. But the African Union has no mechanism for enforcing that provision.

Mr. Gbagbo's government says it will accept African Union mediation only so long as it does not challenge the legitimacy of the constitutional council decision that Mr. Gbagbo won.

Mr. Ouattara says he will not share power with Mr. Gbagbo and will not agree to face-to-face talks with his rival until Mr. Gbagbo concedes.

International and regional sanctions against Mr. Gbagbo are driving down Ivory Coast's economy by blocking cocoa exports and forcing foreign banks to close.

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