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Ivorian President Ouattara Says Rival Deepens Crisis

Ivorian President Alasssane Ouattara
Ivorian President Alasssane Ouattara

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  • Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara spoke with Clottey

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Peter Clottey

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara told VOA his embattled rival, President Laurent Gbagbo, seems disinterested in bringing stability to Ivory Coast after accusing Mr. Gbagbo of “stalling” to enable him buy more arms and mercenaries to further worsen the country’s crisis.

Mr. Ouattara, who is widely recognized as the winner of the disputed 28th November presidential run-off vote, said there is no room, in his words, to negotiate away the will of Ivorians with President Gbagbo.

“The current situation is difficult for Ivorians in general because of this situation where Mr. Gbagbo clearly lost the election. I won the election by 54.10 percent and yet, he does not want to leave office, and we are at the Golf hotel where he has organized a blockade,” said Ouattara.

“As of today, more than 300 people have been killed in different districts of Abidjan and across the country, and we have even discovered mass graves in Abidjan. So, it’s a very terrible situation for my country.”

Despite increasing international pressure, including the threat of “legitimate force” to remove him from power, President Gbagbo has refused to cede power to Mr. Ouattara.

Mr. Ouattara said there is a need for more international pressure on Mr. Gbagbo to force him to step down. He said Mr. Gbagbo is biding his time threatening to plunge the country into deeper crisis.

“Stalling allows him to import arms and ammunitions and to recruit mercenaries and militias, so that he can continue to kill the Ivorian people. He thinks this is good for him, but it’s very bad for Cote d’Ivoire and Ivorians,” said Ouattara.

“We believe that Mr. Gbagbo has used this strategy all over for five years and that is how he got into office from 2005 to 2010. We had negotiations all the time, he made commitments, which he never respected and, as a result, he is just ready to take commitments, but not ready to implement them. So, it’s clearly a strategy for him to win time and to import mercenaries and arms.”

President Gbagbo has maintained that a face-to-face dialogue with his rival is the only way to resolve the escalating crisis.  But, supporters of Mr. Ouattara insist there could be negotiations only if President Gbagbo admits to losing the November vote, a condition Mr. Gbagbo has yet to agree to.

“Ivorians have chosen the president and his name is Alassane Ouattara. What should we negotiate again? What is democracy about? Mr. Gbagbo used to say that he is a democrat, but he lost the election and he should leave office…I cannot negotiate the will of the Ivorian people.”

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