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March 26, 2011

Ouattara Rejects New Ivory Coast Mediator

Efforts to resolve the political crisis in Ivory Coast suffered a new setback Sunday when one of the two rival presidents rejected a proposed mediator.

Alassane Ouattara, who most countries recognize as president of Ivory Coast, said in a statement he was not consulted before the African Union put forward the name of Jose Brito, Cape Verde's former foreign minister.

Ouattara said Brito was unsuitable as mediator because he is not a former head of state and has personal and political connections with his rival, incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.

There was no immediate comment from Gbagbo or his aides.

The African Union has been leading efforts to resolve the crisis, sparked when Gbagbo refused to cede power after Ouattara was named the winner of the November presidential election.

The main city of Abidjan has been the scene of intense fighting between the two presidents' supporters.

The United Nations says post-election violence has killed at least 462 people and prompted more than one million people to flee their homes, many to Liberia.  

On Friday, the French ambassador to the United Nations warned that Ivory Coast is "very close to civil war."

France and Nigeria have proposed a U.N. resolution that would seek sanctions against Gbagbo.