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January 24, 2011

UN Chief in Ivory Coast to Talk with Rival Leaders

The current head of the African Union is in Ivory Coast for another attempt to mediate the country's political crisis.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika plans to meet separately with Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara, who most countries recognize as the winner of November's presidential election.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and other envoys have tried to mediate the standoff with no success.  Mr. Gbagbo is refusing to give up power, despite strong pressure from the AU and the United Nations.

At least two African leaders have broken with the AU stance that Mr. Gbagbo should step down.

On Tuesday, Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper reported that President Yoweri Museveni is against recognition of Mr. Ouattara as president. The paper quotes Mr. Museveni's spokesman as saying the outcome of the November election should be investigated.

Last week, South African President Jacob Zuma said both the Gbagbo and Ouattara camps had raised serious allegations about election irregularities.  

Envoys from the Economic Community of West African States plan to discuss Ivory Coast later this week with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York

ECOWAS has threatened to remove Mr. Gbagbo by force if he does not yield power.  On Monday, Nigeria's foreign minister said ECOWAS wants a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in Ivory Coast.