News / Africa

Threat of Force Remains in Ivory Coast Negotiations

A U.N. peacekeeper in Ivory Coast stands guard by an UN helicopter used to transport officials and journalists from UNOCI headquarters to the Hotel du Golf, the temporary headquarters of Alassane Ouattara, in Abidjan, 3 Jan 2011
A U.N. peacekeeper in Ivory Coast stands guard by an UN helicopter used to transport officials and journalists from UNOCI headquarters to the Hotel du Golf, the temporary headquarters of Alassane Ouattara, in Abidjan, 3 Jan 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

West African leaders say a promise by Ivory Coast's incumbent president to resolve his country's political crisis peacefully does not remove the threat of a regional military force to drive him from office.

The Economic Community of West African States says incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo must yield power to the internationally-recognized winner of Ivory Coast's election or be forced out by a coalition of regional troops.

Mr. Gbagbo agreed to negotiate, without preconditions, following talks this week with ECOWAS heads of state and the African Union mediator to the crisis.  But he has not yet agreed to hand over power to former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, who has not left a United Nations-protected hotel since the electoral commission declared him the winner of November's vote.

So the regional threat of force to remove Mr. Gbagbo remains.

"Let me say, without any equivocation, that a military option is still on the cards," said James Gbeho, the president of the ECOWAS alliance. "However, ECOWAS and AU are telling you now that, even if there is a half-percent chance of resolving the problem peacefully, they will exploit it.  And, their initial contacts with both President Gbagbo and President Ouattara indicated some promise of getting them to agree on certain essential elements in order to obviate the force option."

Mr. Gbagbo still controls the army, so a fight for control of Abidjan would be costly, especially as there are many citizens of countries likely to contribute troops to an ECOWAS military force who live in Ivory Coast and might then become targets of Gbagbo militants.

Gbeho says regional leaders understand the difficulties in mounting such a force, but will not hesitate to do so if the crisis cannot be resolved peacefully.

"We, of course, are aware of the dangers in the force option, particularly in a country like Cote d'Ivoire where almost all citizens and ethnic groups of our ECOWAS region are represented.  And so, it is an option that must be used with a lot of circumspection," he said. "But, if push comes to shove, that is what is going to be used."

African mediators have also made clear that there can be no power-sharing deal here.  They insist that Mr. Ouattara is the duly-elected president and Mr. Gbagbo must go.

So the primary focus of further talks appears to be arranging Mr. Gbagbo's departure.  American officials have discussed his moving to the U.S. state of Georgia, where he has relatives.

But so far, Mr. Gbagbo says he is not going anywhere and is using state-run media to portray near-unanimous international support for Mr. Ouattara, as evidence of a plot against the Gbagbo government.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid