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

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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid