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January 08, 2011

Ouattara Encouraged By Latest Effort to Resolve Ivory Coast Crisis

by Peter Clottey

An official in former Ivorian Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara’s administration said Mr. Ouattara is encouraged by the latest effort to resolve the ongoing crisis by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr. Obasanjo held separate meetings Sunday with both Mr. Ouattara and embattled President Laurent Gbagbo in an effort to help resolve the impasse over who won last November’s presidential run-off election.

Patrich Achi, Minister of Infrastructure and spokesman for Mr. Ouattara, told VOA any effort to ensure President Gbagbo cedes power peacefully is a step in the right direction.

“He (Mr. Ouattara) put it forward in his last declaration that everything that will help former President Gbagbo to step down peacefully is welcomed. And, I guess, the visit of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is well-known for this type of support, is certainly welcome,” he said.

Despite increasing international pressure, including threats of force by regional-bloc the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Gbagbo has refused to step down.

Achi said ECOWAS needs more international support to resolve the crisis in Ivory Coast.

“The case in Cote d’Ivoire is very important and he (Mr. Ouattara) is very satisfied that they (ECWAS) are putting action after their words. What he has said is for them to do everything they could to have President Gbagbo step down peacefully,” said Achi.

Meanwhile, officials of ECOWAS are scheduled to meet international partners this week to seek more support with efforts to help resolve the crisis in Ivory Coast.

“He is receiving this news very positively. And, as you know, ECOWAS has made the Cote d’Ivoire case a very important case, not only for Cote D’Ivoire or ECOWAS, but for all African countries and the whole continent.

“We really need to put forward action that will enhance the visibility and the positive move that the whole West African region and the African continent is doing for democracy,” said Achi.

Regional support for Mr. Ouattara weakened slightly Friday when Ghana's President, John Atta-Mills, said his country is not taking sides in the standoff and will support any government in Ivory Coast.

Mr. Atta-Mills also said he does not support the use of military force to oust Mr. Gbagbo.

Pro-Gbagbo forces continue to keep Mr. Ouattara confined to the Abidjan hotel where he has been for about a month.