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Incumbent Ivory Coast Government Criticizes AU For Recognizing Ouattara

The representative of Ivorian incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, Pascal N'guessan (C), speaks with members of his delegation on March 10, 2011 before the start of African Union talks in Addis Ababa
The representative of Ivorian incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, Pascal N'guessan (C), speaks with members of his delegation on March 10, 2011 before the start of African Union talks in Addis Ababa

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The incumbent government of Ivory Coast is rejecting the African Union's endorsement of the United Nations certified winner of November's presidential election, saying African leaders are making the situation worse and will be held accountable for a possible return to civil war.

Former prime minister Alassane Ouattara says African Union leaders meeting in Ethiopia Thursday endorsed his election and now believe incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo must leave power.

"We had a good meeting with the panel of head of states and they reconfirmed that I am the president elected by the Ivorian People, and now it's a final decision so there is no way to go back on that. And at the same time they asked me if I could, in a framework of reconciliation, have a government which would take into account other parties and the civil society and try to find an honorable exit to for Mr. Laurent Gbabgo. Obviously I accepted that because I want peace for Cote d'Ivoire," he said.

Ouattara says he will now work to form a government for Ivory Coast that includes members of Gbagbo's party.

"It's a government that I will form which will include members of other parties that I will select," he said. "It is different to say that it is a National Unity Government as if ministers will be opposed to me, that is not the case. So it will be a government where I will take the best people in Cote d'Ivoire to run a disaster situation because the situation is a....the economy is completely down and the social indicators are worse than we have seen since independence. So I want to have a strong team, a team of competent people from all parties and from the civil society but I will select them. Well Mr. Gbabgo will have an honorable exit and thereafter when he comes to see me we'll discuss that."

Gbagbo was invited to the talks in Ethiopia but refused to attend. His representative, Pascal N'guessan, says the African Union decision will not help resolve the crisis peacefully.

N'guessan says Africa and the African Union are contributing to the worsening situation in Ivory Coast, and will be accountable for an eventual civil war that could take place.

Gbagbo's government continues to insist that he was re-elected because a council of his allies annulled as fraudulent nearly ten percent of all ballots cast.

N'guessan says Gbagbo is open to all negotiations but will not accept anyone denying his victory without any reason or argument.

On his first trip outside Ivory Coast since November's vote, Ouattara worked to solidify near-unanimous international support for his government in meetings with nearly 30 diplomats including representatives of the European Union, the United States, India, and Brazil.

He meets in Nigeria Friday with President Goodluck Jonathan who has led the push for West Africa's regional alliance to use force to drive Gbagbo from power.


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