A special adviser to embattled Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo said a team of advisers will continue “reaching out” to former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara to organize a direct dialogue aimed at resolving the country’s political crisis.
Ambassador Yao Gnamien also denied reports the military, which backs Mr. Gbagbo, has been blocking all access to the Gulf Hotel, where former Prime Minister Ouattara and his advisers are staying.
“There has never been a blockade. The Gulf Hotel is very close to the residence, to the palace of President Gbagbo. So, President Gbagbo took some measures of protection of his home. This is why we are saying that nobody can do whatever (they) want near the White House, for instance, in Washington, D.C. So, we cannot say that it was a blockade,” said Ambassador Gnamien.
“Nobody can threaten anybody. So, they (supporters of Mr. Ouattara) are free to go and come. What the president wants is for them to leave the hotel and go home. They are free.”
Mr. Ouattara has ruled out any face-to-face dialogue until Mr. Gbagbo acknowledges that he lost the 28th November presidential run-off vote. African leaders have, so far, failed in several attempts to persuade Mr. Gbagbo to step down and hand over power to his rival, despite increasing international pressure.
The sub-regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has threatened to use “legitimate force” to remove Mr. Gbagbo if he refuses to step down and cede power to his rival.
ECOWAS, together with the international community, recognizes Mr. Ouattara as winner of the presidential run-off vote.
Ambassador Gnamien said dialogue, without precondition, is the only way to resolve the ongoing crisis.
“If you are a politician, you can never say I will not negotiate. This is why we are inviting Prime Minister Ouattara and President Gbagbo to sit down before the international community. The international community will be like a judge,” said Ambassador Gnamien.
“We think that the best solution is to negotiate. All of his advisers like me have been trying to talk to Mr. Ouattara so that our two bosses can agree to sit down and negotiate and to find the solution. This is what President Gbagbo has asked us to do.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations says it needs 1,000 to 2,000 more troops in Ivory Coast amid post-election turmoil. Peacekeepers surround the hotel where Mr. Ouattara has his headquarters.