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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs