News / Africa

South Africa President Joins AU Panel Heading to Ivory Coast

South African President Jacob Zuma delivers the State of the Nation Address during the opening of parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 10, 2011 (file photo)
South African President Jacob Zuma delivers the State of the Nation Address during the opening of parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 10, 2011 (file photo)
Delia Robertson

South African president Jacob Zuma will travel to Mauritania and Ivory Coast as part of the African Union’s initiative aimed at resolving the political crisis in Ivory Coast.

Zuma joins the high-level African Union panel led by Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and which also includes the leaders of Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Chad. They hope to end the stalemate following the refusal of incumbent Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo to step down in favor of Alassane Ouattara, the U.N. certified winner of the country’s presidential election in November.

Before traveling to Ivory Coast, the heads of state first will be briefed in Mauritania by a team of experts who have spent weeks working with the opposing parties.

But the success of the initiative already is in doubt because some of the leaders are viewed as biased by some Ivorians. Gbagbo’s supporters oppose the inclusion of the Burkina Faso president because he is an ally of Ouattara. Meanwhile, some of Ouattara’s supporters, and some members of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, believe South Africa has aligned itself with Gbagbo.

Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the South African Department of International Affairs and Cooperation, said South Africa is neutral in the dispute and has been talking to both sides trying to find a way to break the impasse.

“[International Affairs and Cooperation] Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane has been receiving delegations from both Ouattara's people, and Gbagbo's people, and both of them have confirmed that they view South Africa as an impartial honest peace broker,” said Monyela.

But South Africa’s standing as an honest broker was disputed by senior ECOWAS officials when it deployed the SAS Drakensberg to the Gulf of Guinea. The ship was put on standby for a possible evacuation of South African diplomats and other citizens in the event of serious conflict in Ivory Coast.

The Drakensberg is a support and supply vessel of the South African Navy and has been frequently deployed on rescue and diplomatic missions. But it took more than two weeks for officials to clearly enunciate the vessel’s mission in the region and for Zuma to discuss the matter with leaders in West Africa.

“And we have also emphasized that at no stage has the SAS Drakensberg entered the Ivorian territorial waters," said Monyela. "By the way, this ship is a non-combatant support ship, with a non-aggressive posture. So we thought it was important for us to clarify because clearly some people had gotten the wrong idea.”

South Africa’s role in the region also has troubled ordinary Ivorians at home and in South Africa. Rumors are widespread that the Drakensberg will be used as a launching pad for an attack against Ouattara supporters, or to prop up Gbagbo; or even that it is there to remove what some say are Gbagbo’s ill-gotten riches.

Monyela rejects the suggestion South Africa waited too long to fully explain itself. “And we are quite comfortable from where we are sitting that the matter has been clarified both to ECOWAS and to Ouattara and Gbagbo's people in the Ivory Coast, including the population.”

The panel’s mission is expected to conclude by next Tuesday.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid